This book was bought for me as a present and it was a pleasant change to read a non-fiction book for a bit of a change. The blurb on the back interested me as it says Diana 'born in 1917...reflects frankly on the losses and occasionally the gains that old age brings, and on the wisdom and fortitude required to face death.' From this I thought it was worth reading.
Each chapter covers a particular topic, whether it is looking back at relationships gone by, or highlights and interests during her life, or regrets, or feelings about being nearer the end of your life. The book is reasonably short and each chapter is straightforward and easy to read.
I didn't find any of the subject matter depressing, in fact the tone in which it is written is either matter-of-fact or even laced with a dry sense of humour. That is not to say that other readers may find it dour or gloomy, but I didn't.
What I did like was the succinct style of writing, never over sentimental, just honest. I also enjoyed the view point. I found the older persons voice, talking about simple things (like buying a plant that you may never see grow to maturity), that we younger people may not consider yet, interesting and refreshing.
While I was never depressed while reading her words, I was, on occasion moved to tears when she describes the deaths of her own parents. Obviously she covers some things that some readers may find difficult to read, but my own view is that these are things to do with life which we choose to contemplate or not, and that choice is very personal.
While I found her musings sometimes enlightening, and she raised a slight chuckle or two from me along the way, I also found some chapters a little dull. I think maybe her unsentimental and analytical style, while refreshing in some parts, can lead you to feel a little cold in others and at the end I couldn't help wishing that I connected to her as a person more.
I also disagreed with her on occasion, and found her passages dwelling on the lack of 'daughters' to look after her (rather than children of either sex) a bit of a sticking point. She repeats this specific opinion on the use of female children in several paragraphs, and while I know that her generation traditionally took this expectation, I still found my neck prickling when she mentioned it again.
There is, however, quite a bit to rouse discussion amongst book groups, regarding herself, as a person, her views and writing style, and also ageing and generational differences.
BBC radio 4 discussed this book on womens hour, and you can listen to this discussion by clicking on this link...
I read this book to complete #3 of the 2009 mini challenges, to read a non-fiction book.