186pp., paperback, Reprint, London, (2018) 2019
Deborah Levy was born in Johannesburg in 1959. Her father was a member of the African National Congress and spent time in prison. The family emigrated to the UK in 1968. She is the author of six novels, including Swimming Home and Hot Milk. The Cost of Living is the second part of a three-part autobiography. The first part, Things I Don't Want to Know, is also available.
"At the age of 50 and after decades of what sound like the usual patterns of north London family-making, she finds herself cast adrift from her marriage and, crucially, without any desire to swim back. We’re not given names or details, but that is not so much a matter of tact as irrelevance, since the story Levy tells, she insists, does not belong to her alone. It is the story of every woman throughout history who has expended her love and labour on making a home that turns out to serve the needs of everyone except herself...in The Cost of Living, Levy explicitly recuperates De Beauvoir’s position, not only by engaging closely with The Second Sex, but by going deeply into the philosopher’s personal struggles to reconcile sexual love with intellectual liberty. The result is a piece of work that is not so much a memoir as an eloquent manifesto for what Levy calls 'a new way of living' in the post-familial world." The Guardian
"Deborah Levy is a most generous writer. What is wonderful about this short, sensual, embattled memoir is that it is not only about the painful landmarks in her life - the end of a marriage, the death of a mother - it is about what it is to be alive. I can't think about any writer aside from Virginia Woolf who writes better about what is is to be a woman. This is a little book about a big subject. It is about how to find a new way of 'living'." Observer