I’m back reading in the 1970s and although it never occurred to me before to think of Barbara Pym and Kngsley Amis in the same paragraph – this book shows some similarities – in some ways. If 50 years and still in print is the sign of a classic both Pym and Amis are almost there. Pym’s “Quartet in Autumn” is a big favorite of mine and was published in 1977. It’s about 4 people who work in the same office and are all at, or very nearly at, retirement age. Amis’ story is about 5 people who are older than Pym’s group, but both books are a study of characters.
by Kingsley Amis
rating: 7 /
I’s a good book although not terribly exciting, and is actually rather silly in its own way – either that or I didn’t “get” something. (Pym’s book is not “silly” in any way.)
In Ending Up, five elderly people live in a big house together – three men and two women. They really aren’t “friends,” per se, but they’re friendly and tolerant – for the most part, except that … well … that becomes more and more difficult as they age and lose their abilities.
Shorty is a drinker but helpful around the house when he wants to be.
Adela basically manages the household finances – because she’s a tightwad.
Marigold is a rather flighty type, fashionable and proud but losing a few marbles you might say.
Bernard is a crotchety old man and a little mean. He likes to play pranks.
George is pretty close to bed-ridden due to a stroke but he’s been improving. He still writes articles and so on. Bernard and George were/are lovers.
The main event is Christmas when Marigold’s grandchildren come for the day but it doesn’t end there – there is an aftermath.
The writing is old fashioned with unusual language and sentence structure. There are a couple good metaphors but also a couple of really wrong ones. There are places where it is very funny but also places where it’s bleak. It was hard to get into but once I did, once I knew the characters and their ways I very much enjoyed it.