Dancing Fish and Ammonites: A Memoir

Editorial reviews

Dancing Fish and Ammonites: A Memoir

Lively notes the importance of reading. “I can measure out my life in books. They stand along the way like signposts: the moments of absorption and empathy and direction and enlightenment and sheer pleasure.” I found all of these in Dancing Fish and Ammonites.

It is delightful to get history lessons from someone who lived through important historical periods and can put them into the kind of individual, personalized perspective that beats any plain history book. This is living history, and Lively is our very lively tour guide.

This reminiscence is worth a place on everybody’s shelf, so it can be brought down—every once in a while—for a thoughtful review.

Fascinating, clear-eyed but chilly meditation on the elements that add up to a life.

There is a wry humor in her acknowledgement of the impeding stopping of the clock, of the aches and pains that accompany old age, those things one no longer wishes to do and those that one cannot.

I wanted to leap into her place and time, but this book wouldn’t quite let me.