Yesterday Morning by Diana Athill

Yesterday Morning cover

Yesterday Morning by Diana Athill was published in 2002 and it’s subtitled A Very English Childhood which no doubt is what she had but she was also part of a very privileged and well off family. She was loved and cherished, it was all ponies and servants and living in a huge house on the Norfolk estate which belonged to her grandfather. All of the cousins saw it as their home as the aunts were all married to men in the armed forces who were mainly out of the country most of the time, so the women all seemed to have gone ‘home’, well it’s one way of getting out of having to grapple with your own housekeeping and servants I suppose!

But the book begins with Diana Athill’s mother hardly being able to believe that she now has a 70 year old daughter. The mother was 92. “She was well aware of being a very old woman, but she still felt like the Kitty Athill she had always been, so it was absurd to have another old woman as a daughter.” Her mother lived until the age of 96, but Diana is still going strong, she had her 100 birthday in December.

This is another enjoyable read from Diana Athill, but it’s so sad that her entire adult life seems to have been blighted by her being emotionally damaged by being dumped by her fiance who immediately married someone else, she had loved him since she was 15. He was in the RAF during WW2 and was killed a week after that. Apparently she was afraid of being hurt again so never became very deeply involved with anyone again.

There are quite a lot of short You Tube videos of Diana Athill talking about her life and writing. She must be just about the last person alive with that sort of accent, a sort of 1930s BBC announcer voice.

4 thoughts on “Yesterday Morning by Diana Athill

  1. I really should stop reading your blog because all it does is add to my list of books I need to buy! I watched the YouTube video and she sounds like such a fascinating woman. I read Stet a while ago but I didn’t know anything about her before I picked that up.

    • Jennifer,
      Oh please don’t stop dropping by, I enjoy your comments so much. I know what you mean though, some blogs are dangerous to our ever lengthening reading lists! I’ve been looking out for the Morton travel/England books you’ve been buying and I saw a hardback one in Edinburgh yesterday but at a crazy price! So I’ll keep looking. There is something fascinating about Diana Athill.

  2. Hi Katrina,
    This sounds like a fascinating book–I absolutely must get a hold of it. I know I said this about Stet, and I will. I’m transferring the title of this one to my primary list of books to be read.

    • Judith,
      You should look to see if your library has her books. I’m sure you’ll get around to them eventually, we all have those long reading lists!

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