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I was unfamiliar with Levy and this is the only book I have read by her, based on a brief review in the London Review of Books, so I had little clue as to what to expect. I found a beautifully written, very personal kind of memoir which lets us into her life, at a stage where she has recently separated from her husband of many years and is in full rebuilding phase, aged circa 50.
This feels like a very personal book so it is understandable that some people would read it and feel a great affinity with it, and with the author, whilst others may not. I am in the latter category, having found much of the book rather grating. At the risk of seeming a bit nasty, I thought she sounded like she had a bone to pick with the world at times - and the men in it in particular - and comes across as a bit self-pitying and self-absorbed. The book is of course very much centered on herself and her needs. What do I expect to read in a highly personal memoir you may ask. Fair point, and I am sure that many other readers, perhaps who have been through a similar experience, may read this account through different eyes, closer to the authors', and get a lot from it. However, read through my eyes I didn't much enjoy this memoir, and despite some good passages, didn't get very much out of it.
These are the extraordinary and often startling reflections of a woman who has ceased to define herself in terms of others’ expectations, and is determined to become the author of her own life. The writing is sublime, gripping. A meditation on writing, friendship and the (im)possibility of love and life. One of the strangest, and definitely one of the best books I have read for a long time.
I'd only ever read one other novel by this author (Hot Milk) and really not enjoyed it - although remember having high expectations as I had seen her talking about that book and it sounded fascinating. A couple of years on and it's time to try another one. This is a small book with only 186 pages and a very large font. Turns out that the book is a memoir written when the author was recently divorced. It's very personal and hard to engage with the bitterness she clearly felt while she was writing. Deborah Levy had an anger with the world that she wanted to get out of her system and this book was her way to do that. There are some beautifully written sections and the phrasing is wonderful but I found it impossible to enjoy reading on any level. We learn about her sadness but nothing about her and too little about her soul. My particular irritation is the author makes it very clear she is angry about how she is being treated but then continues to treat other people in similar ways - all felt very hypocritical. Not a book to recommend and I think I'm going to give up on this author now.
I didn't enjoy this book at all, lost the will to read it before I was a third of the way through and only continued to the end because it was a book club selection. The author, a divorced writer pads out the book with lots of references to names that only mean anything if you've heard of them and know anything about them, and out of context quotes which may not hold the same resonance for the reader. A short book and expensive when compared with more standard sized tomes, if ever a book was written just to make money in my view this fits the category. Borrow it from the library.
I loved the first part of Deborah Levy's memoir (Things I Don't Want to Know) and wasn't sure how The Cost of Living would compare, but I was not disappointed! This is an incredible mediation on writing, marriage, motherhood, and finding oneself which will likely resonate in some way with most people. It's short and a quick read, but each page packs a punch. Looking forward to part 3!
Not sure what I was expecting, but I don't think it was this . I downloaded on the back of reading India Knight's very brief review in The Sunday Times & it resonated being in the same situation ( 50 odd & recently separated ) Beautifully written in parts, with some interesting themes & thoughts & on balance recommended ( although maybe not at £7.49 ! ), just don't expect it to give you any answers ..
Oh how I love books that make me think about my own writing process, this one did just that. Especially how it fits in with my own life and the “major and minor characters” that flit in and out of it. Any one that loves writing in the now will love this book...recommended...