Ending Up is a grimly hilarious dance of death, full of bickering, bitching, backstabbing, drinking (of course), and idiocy of all sorts. It is a book about dying people and about a dying England, clinging to its memories of greatness as it succumbs to terminal decay.
Everyone wants a comfortable place to die, and Kingsley Amis’s characters have found it in Tuppeny-happeny Cottage, where assorted septuagenarians have come together to see one another out the door of life. There’s grotesque Adela, whose sole passion is her cheapness; her brother Brigadier Bernard Bastable, always strategizing a new retreat to the bathroom before sallying forth to play some especially nasty practical joke; Shorty, the servant, who years ago had a fling with the brigadier in the barracks and now organizes his day around a trail of hidden bottles; George Zeyer, the distinguished professor of history, bedridden and helpless to articulate his still-coherent thoughts; and Marigold, who slowly but surely is forgetting it all.
And now it is Christmas. Children and grandchildren are coming to visit their ailing elders. They don’t know what lies in store before the story ends. None of us do.