Ending Up ~ by Kingsley Amis

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.



Ending Up
by Kingsley Amis
1974/1   pages
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.


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