Happy Old Me by Hunter Davies

Happy Old Me

Simon & Schuster UK (21 Mar. 2019) | Hardback |291 pages |  4*


On 8th February 2016,Margaret Forster lost her life to cancer of the spine. The days that followed for her husband, Hunter Davies, were carried out on autopilot: arrangements to be made, family and friends to be contacted. But how do you cope after you have lost your loved one? How do you carry on?

As Hunter navigates what it means to be alone again after 55 years of marriage, coping with bereavement and being elderly (he still doesn’t believe he is), he shares his wisdom and lessons he has learnt living alone again. Revealing his emotional journey over the course of one year, as well as the often ignored practical implications of becoming widowed, he learns that, ultimately, bricks and mortar may change but the memories will remain. 

Part memoir, part self-help, Happy Old Me is a fitting, heart-felt tribute to the love of his life and a surprisingly amusing and informative book about an age, and stage in life, which we might all reach someday. The third book in Hunter Davies’ much-loved memoir series, which includes The Co-Op’s Got Bananas and A Life in the Day. 

Hunter Davies wrote Happy Old Me: How to Live a Long Life and Really Enjoy It in 2018 when he was in his eighty-second year. After fifty-five years of marriage he found he suddenly had to cope with living on his own, doing all the ‘domestic stuff he had never bothered to learn’ and get to grips with being old.

It tells of what he did during his first year after Margaret Forster, his wife died and also looks back at their time together and their family and careers. It is so readable, it’s like listening to him talking. I’ve read several of Margaret Forster’s books so it was good to ‘see’ her from his perspective.

I knew less about Hunter Davies, other than that he’s a journalist and has written several books on a variety of subjects. I’m reading The John Lennon Letters, that Davies edited  and my husband is reading his biography of Alfred Wainwright (I’ll read it later) and we have a copy of his book, A Walk Along the Wall, about Hadrian’s Wall (I’ll be reading that later too). Other books by him that interest me are his biographies of the Beatles and of William Wordsworth and also Lakeland: A Personal Journey. 

Amazon tells me that ‘Hunter Davies was at the heart of London culture in the Swinging Sixties, becoming close friends with The Beatles, and especially Sir Paul McCartney. He has been writing bestselling books, as well as widely read columns for over fifty years for major newspapers and magazines.’

In Happy Old Me he writes openly and frankly, with a sense of humour and a zest for life. I really enjoyed it.

Happy Old Me Contents

When was I happiest? People often get asked that, or ask themselves, especially when they get into their eighties, as if all happiness must be in the past, gone for ever. I always say now. And I mean it. I am happy. I am happy to have had my past and I am happy looking forward to tomorrow. (page 267)

4 thoughts on “Happy Old Me by Hunter Davies

  1. I shall keep an eye out for this one, when I checked Amazon for Hunter Davies this is the one that appealed. And then I checked my own books *embarrassed cough* and found that I actually do own one of his books, A Walk Along the Wall. His biography of Wordsworth appeals too having read Dorothy’s diaries of The Lake District and enjoyed them. Funny how I used to enjoy his various newspaper and stamp magazine articles and had no idea he was married to Margaret Forster.


  2. I like the idea that there are ways to live one’s life to choose happiness, whatever our age. And I like the writing style of the bits that you’ve shared. It feels as though he doesn’t gloss over the parts of life that can hurt – a lot – but at the same time, weaves some wit into the writing. That takes skill. I’m glad you enjoyed this one, Margaret.


  3. I think he must be happier now than he was in the past as I remember when he had a weekly column in – I think it was the Guardian he seemed to moan constantly about money. Maybe he just enjoys a good moan as many people do. I’d like to read his books about the Lake District I think.


  4. I think I’d enjoy this book, having an interest in how people live their lives through ups and downs, always looking for the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I have not read Hunter Davies or books by Margaret Forster and his daughter Caitlin Davies.


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