The Cost of Living — Deborah Levy

Heavenly Levy. This is the second part of her memoir/manifesto, following Things I Don’t Want to Know. She writes about her life following her divorce from her husband, as she grapples with forging — by necessity but above all by choice — what she calls “a new way of living”.

The exquisite prose is a joy in itself. But it’s also uplifting and life-affirming — because Levy is writing about being true to herself. There is pain (it can, after all, be much harder than it sounds to do what you really want) but so much joy in her new life: whizzing about town on an e-bike, being chauffeured around by a new friend after her mother dies (having “lost all sense of geographical direction”), or her “guardian angel” offering her a new place to write (the shed in her garden, where apples crash onto the roof and make her think of Newton).

I want to quote every line, but this bit is probably my favourite:

“To separate from love is to live a risk-free life. What’s the point of that sort of life? I was living in the Republic of Writing and Children. I was not Simone de Beauvoir after all. No. I had got off the train at a different stop (marriage) and stepped onto a different platform (children). She was my muse but I certainly was not hers. Yet we had bought a ticket for the same train. The destination was to head towards a freer life.

That is a vague destination, no one knows what it looks like when we get there. It is a journey without end, but I did not know that then.”

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