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'Three bicycles. Seven ghosts. A crumbling apartment block on the hill. Fame. Tenderness. The statue of Peter Pan. Silk. Melancholy. The banana tree. A Pandemic. A love story.' From one of the great thinkers and writers of our time, comes the highly anticipated final instalment in Deborah Levy's critically acclaimed 'Living Autobiography' 'I can't think of any writer aside f 'Three bicycles. Seven ghosts. A crumbling apartment block on the hill. Fame. Tenderness. The statue of Peter Pan. Silk. Melancholy. The banana tree. A Pandemic. A love story.' From one of the great thinkers and writers of our time, comes the highly anticipated final instalment in Deborah Levy's critically acclaimed 'Living Autobiography' 'I can't think of any writer aside from Virginia Woolf who writes better about what it is to be a woman' Observer on The Cost of Living Following the international critical acclaim of The Cost of Living, this final volume of Deborah Levy's 'Living Autobiography' is an exhilarating, thought-provoking and boldly intimate meditation on home and the spectres that haunt it. 'I began to wonder what myself and all unwritten and unseen women would possess in their property portfolios at the end of their lives. Literally, her physical property and possessions, and then everything else she valued, though it might not be valued by society. What might she claim, own, discard and bequeath? Or is she the real estate, owned by patriarchy? In this sense, Real Estate is a tricky business. We rent it and buy it, sell and inherit it - but we must also knock it down.' 'Wise, subtle and ironic, Levy's every sentence is a masterpiece of clarity and poise... A brilliant writer' Daily Telegraph on The Cost of Living 'Extraordinary and beautiful, suffused with wit and razor-sharp insights' Financial Times on The Cost of Living


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'Three bicycles. Seven ghosts. A crumbling apartment block on the hill. Fame. Tenderness. The statue of Peter Pan. Silk. Melancholy. The banana tree. A Pandemic. A love story.' From one of the great thinkers and writers of our time, comes the highly anticipated final instalment in Deborah Levy's critically acclaimed 'Living Autobiography' 'I can't think of any writer aside f 'Three bicycles. Seven ghosts. A crumbling apartment block on the hill. Fame. Tenderness. The statue of Peter Pan. Silk. Melancholy. The banana tree. A Pandemic. A love story.' From one of the great thinkers and writers of our time, comes the highly anticipated final instalment in Deborah Levy's critically acclaimed 'Living Autobiography' 'I can't think of any writer aside from Virginia Woolf who writes better about what it is to be a woman' Observer on The Cost of Living Following the international critical acclaim of The Cost of Living, this final volume of Deborah Levy's 'Living Autobiography' is an exhilarating, thought-provoking and boldly intimate meditation on home and the spectres that haunt it. 'I began to wonder what myself and all unwritten and unseen women would possess in their property portfolios at the end of their lives. Literally, her physical property and possessions, and then everything else she valued, though it might not be valued by society. What might she claim, own, discard and bequeath? Or is she the real estate, owned by patriarchy? In this sense, Real Estate is a tricky business. We rent it and buy it, sell and inherit it - but we must also knock it down.' 'Wise, subtle and ironic, Levy's every sentence is a masterpiece of clarity and poise... A brilliant writer' Daily Telegraph on The Cost of Living 'Extraordinary and beautiful, suffused with wit and razor-sharp insights' Financial Times on The Cost of Living

30 review for Real Estate

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    "That night, in the deep heat of Greece, devoured by mosquitos and reminiscences, I was thinking about all the doors I had closed in my life and what it would have taken to keep them ajar." I knew I would love this - I loved the first two volumes of this astonishing living autobiography series (though I classify them as criticism as well - but I really loved this. Levy is essential. "That night, in the deep heat of Greece, devoured by mosquitos and reminiscences, I was thinking about all the doors I had closed in my life and what it would have taken to keep them ajar." I knew I would love this - I loved the first two volumes of this astonishing living autobiography series (though I classify them as criticism as well - but I really loved this. Levy is essential.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    4.5 'It seemed to me all over again that in every phase of living we do not have to conform to the way our life has been written for us, especially by those who are less imaginative than ourselves.' While reading the latest part of Deborah Levy’s excellent continuing memoir, Real Estate, I kept thinking, as is usually the case when I read Levy (two dozen or so other writers have a similar effect; Geoff Dyer, Nicola Barker, Alan Bennett, Muriel Spark amongst them) that to a large extent I don't min 4.5 'It seemed to me all over again that in every phase of living we do not have to conform to the way our life has been written for us, especially by those who are less imaginative than ourselves.' While reading the latest part of Deborah Levy’s excellent continuing memoir, Real Estate, I kept thinking, as is usually the case when I read Levy (two dozen or so other writers have a similar effect; Geoff Dyer, Nicola Barker, Alan Bennett, Muriel Spark amongst them) that to a large extent I don't mind what Levy wants to discuss or consider and that what I’m really here for, what compels me to turn the pages, is not the incident, narrative concerns or even the fact that I’m genuinely interested in such a fascinating individual’s life – however artfully arranged – but the voice the author has found with which she can talk about her life and her place in it. Why, though, is Levy’s voice compelling? Firstly, like all great authorial voices, it’s brilliantly synthesised. It seamlessly marries a philosophical interiority with the universal. So when Levy references Simone de Beauvoir, or Georges Perec, or Lady Gaga, or whoever she wants to employ as a reinforcing element as part of any of her pleasing pop-culture riffs, she does so in an apparently offhand way, while engaging in some kind of prosaic interlude (buying shoes or chairs; boarding a train; cooking a meal) which both collapses the gravity of the cultural reference while elevating the personal act, fusing both in a way that accurately captures ‘real time’ conscious thought (Ali Smith does something very similar). It’s a complicated style which renders (or rescues) throwaway things by conferring upon them the same status as everything else, while making of supposedly lofty things merely a collection of utility symbols with which we might make more sense of existence, belonging to nobody, accessible to all, applicable to whatever takes our fancy. So while we listen to Levy talk about her crumbling apartment, her ideal home (which exists in her mind and therefore exists for real -- she wants to protect mental spaces and dreams from, above all else, men), her daughters heading off to university or the concierge in her new flat in Paris, and wait for her next insertion of some long-held excerpt or aphorism that might suit a specific moment, we enjoy the contrived elegance of the unfettered raconteur, in a way we absolutely could not in any other way but on the page. The artifice implicit when grafting other people's words onto her own vanishes, since it’s seamlessly apt, affords contributions from sage outsiders no special deference and because she's bold enough to consider herself their equal, and the result is a beautifully working sense of someone both earthbound and ethereal, forced to deal with all kinds of things she’d often rather not, but also revivifying them with a well-deployed juxtaposition and by refusing to accept pretty much all received value systems. All of which makes much more of typewriters and taxi journeys as part of a unifying tapestry. (Another way of putting this is to say that Levy seems to find the world more fascinating than lovable. While collecting these scenes, I wonder if she enjoys them even nearly as much as she does after the fact, when she can make them her own.) Secondly, Levy knows that time is a very different matter to the contemplative mind than it is out in the world, and that this compounds the suggestion that everything is inherently interconnected (or that any mind hoping to make sense of a world has to impose such a system), a suggestion that’s crucial to the success of such a style. Showing that this is the case is partly down to the synthesis on a sentence and paragraph level, but also due to her refusal to separate childhood with adulthood (other than parts of an extended and finally condensed sequence), ephemera with the eternal, dream houses with real ones. She works at layering together the strands of a life so that we can better appreciate the constant peculiarity and wonder of day-to-day life (which is at first negotiated and then, later, perhaps years later, finally experienced, or even subject to a constant state of incompletion). Real Estate makes an infectious, compelling case for building a life at all costs, rather than accepting a much easier, externally created, implicitly dishonest idea of existence. Because Deborah Levy seems very much to be living much more than most people (often with difficulty and moments of doubt and loneliness), and honouring a version of herself she can accept as opposed to manage, this working commentary is never just a matter of information or discovery: it's a manifesto for accepting and even revelling in change and taking zero BS. Thank you to NetGalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Eric Anderson

    It's easy to get drawn to looking at a real estate agent's window and dream of the ideal home you might inhabit. In this book Deborah Levy muses upon how she's done this too especially because her “crumbling apartment block on the hill” is far from ideal. But, rather than planning to acquire bricks and mortar, Levy more often muses upon what shape her “unreal estate” might take as well as the homes and possessions which might be included in her “portfolio”. This playfully allows her to imaginati It's easy to get drawn to looking at a real estate agent's window and dream of the ideal home you might inhabit. In this book Deborah Levy muses upon how she's done this too especially because her “crumbling apartment block on the hill” is far from ideal. But, rather than planning to acquire bricks and mortar, Levy more often muses upon what shape her “unreal estate” might take as well as the homes and possessions which might be included in her “portfolio”. This playfully allows her to imaginatively craft and mould a fictional space and habitation that's not anchored to reality. Moreover, it leads to more searching thoughts upon what it means to inhabit a life through a particular lens; in Levy's case as a writer, a daughter, a mother, a friend, a divorcee and a woman who is about to turn sixty. These autobiographical meditations obviously have a deep personal meaning for the author but they also speak to what it means to be human and the troubling question: how do we inhabit the present moment when we can so often be preoccupied by what we've lost and what we wish to have? There's a delicious exuberance to Levy's journey as she moves between temporary residences in Mumbai, New York, Paris, London, Berlin and Greece. This takes place over the course of 2018 as she's working on her novel “The Man Who Saw Everything” and it's so compelling to read about the images, themes, places and influences “David Lynch, one of the film directors who had most inspired my approach to fiction” which helped shape that book. The same was true of the previous instalment of Levy's memoirs “The Cost of Living” when she was writing her novel “Hot Milk”. The three volumes of what's been branded Levy's 'Living Autobiography' thus make up a fascinating commentary on the writing process and an invaluable exploration of the influences which fed into the creation of her unique novels. However, I have to admit, I favour reading Levy's memoirs more than the fiction itself which I admire and appreciate but don't love as much as reading about her thought process and endearing experiences. Deep issues to do with art, feminism and humanity are paired with humorous wit and flights of fancy which make the 'Living Autobiography' a delicious and richly enjoyable experience. Read my full review of Real Estate by Deborah Levy on LonesomeReader

  4. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Organized around musings on Levy’s dream house and what she would like it to be like, this concluding volume draws onto themes explored in the previous books and works as a conclusion in a way that I found highly, highly satisfying. There are few writers whose prose and narrative structure mean that I will read whatever they put out and will enjoy myself even if I do not always agree with their political points. Levy is this good. I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publi Organized around musings on Levy’s dream house and what she would like it to be like, this concluding volume draws onto themes explored in the previous books and works as a conclusion in a way that I found highly, highly satisfying. There are few writers whose prose and narrative structure mean that I will read whatever they put out and will enjoy myself even if I do not always agree with their political points. Levy is this good. I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Roman Clodia

    I own the books that I have written... in this sense, my books are my real estate. They are not private property In this third part of Levy's sort-of-autobiography, she continues to seduce readers with her wit, her intelligence, her living politics, her unwavering commitment to feminism, her embracing of life, her writer's vision. From the banana plant in her bathroom to her layering of what it might mean to possess 'real estate': 'are women real estate owned by patriarchy?' or are dreams of I own the books that I have written... in this sense, my books are my real estate. They are not private property In this third part of Levy's sort-of-autobiography, she continues to seduce readers with her wit, her intelligence, her living politics, her unwavering commitment to feminism, her embracing of life, her writer's vision. From the banana plant in her bathroom to her layering of what it might mean to possess 'real estate': 'are women real estate owned by patriarchy?' or are dreams of that gorgeous big Mediterranean villa merely a stand in for the ever receding desires that keep us alive and make us human? With perhaps more humour that the previous book and a peripatetic existence that shifts from London to Paris, Berlin to Greece, Levy proves herself - once again - the ideal companion whose casual erudition (yes, thanks, I do need to read Practicalities, and finally get to The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas) sits comfortably alongside her nights in and out with friends - and yes, I yearned for an invite to her 60th birthday party at that hip Parisian club! Warm, wise, creative, strikingly non-judgmental, with a self-awareness and sense of self that are enviable, and with a writing style that is elegant as well as intimate and revealing, Levy is one of my icons. Many thanks to Penguin for an ARC via NetGalley.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alwynne

    ”…you never know what a woman really wants because she’s always being told what she wants.” The final volume of Deborah Levy’s impressive, compelling ‘living autobiography’ as with earlier instalments is partly sparked by another piece of writing, this time Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Levy’s still reassembling her life after divorce, now in her late fifties, her income’s precarious and she’s living in a crumbling, London apartment building yet overwhelmed by fantasy images of the perfec ”…you never know what a woman really wants because she’s always being told what she wants.” The final volume of Deborah Levy’s impressive, compelling ‘living autobiography’ as with earlier instalments is partly sparked by another piece of writing, this time Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. Levy’s still reassembling her life after divorce, now in her late fifties, her income’s precarious and she’s living in a crumbling, London apartment building yet overwhelmed by fantasy images of the perfect house and the perfect existence. But she’s not just thinking of real estate in concrete terms, she spirals out from that to consider it as a metaphor for women’s lives: women as ‘real estate’ in a patriarchal system, their days, their desires, every inch of their domestic space, all too often dominated by men; the male authors that erase or ignore the desires of their female characters and the representation of older women condemned at best to bland likeability or at worst aging, surplus grotesques; the women she meets who're overshadowed by their husbands or partners - sparked by the boasts of an author at a literary festival that at least he can count on going home to warm slippers prepared by his wife. Seemingly stray thoughts lead her to James Baldwin’s years in France, his house there a refuge from the racism and homophobia he experienced, the transformation of domestic space into political space. I say ‘seemingly stray’ because the way Levy’s organising her thoughts can seem rambling, anecdotal and randomly associative when, in fact, she’s slowly weaving a carefully-considered essay/meditation on women, aging and the process of writing. My description of this so far might suggest Levy’s focus is on the oppressed and oppressive but she’s equally invested in exploring ways to go against the script, to fight against the system, “Never again did I want to sit at a table with heterosexual couples and feel that women were borrowing the space. When that happens, it makes landlords of their male partners and the women are their tenants.” Levy’s commitment to rebellion’s encapsulated by her discussion of Leonora Carrington’s wonderful novel The Hearing Trumpet a favourite of a friend in her 80s. A friend who’s an inspiration for Levy, an example of how to be alone and grow old without conforming to society’s expectations of women, the space they should inhabit and how they should inhabit it at each stage of their lives. I feel quite odd about the prospect of leaving Levy behind, I’ve never been tempted by her fiction but I’ve enjoyed these autobiographical pieces immensely, the unexpected shifts between the mundane, the deeply personal and the more literary or political; her distinctive voice; the way she relates aspects of her experiences back to the books she’s loved or found intriguing; and the sense of being witness to someone working through what she thinks about her past and what she wants for her future.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    As with the other two parts of Levy's 'Living Autobiography' series (which sadly is allegedly ending with this volume, although I hope the author changes her mind about that in the ensuing years), this is an amazing synthesis of some rather profound musings with the details of a life lived well and thoughtfully. For me, she joins in a triumvirate with Ali Smith and Rachel Cusk of authors (perhaps not so coincidentally all female), who embody what I love most about writing, although I can't quite As with the other two parts of Levy's 'Living Autobiography' series (which sadly is allegedly ending with this volume, although I hope the author changes her mind about that in the ensuing years), this is an amazing synthesis of some rather profound musings with the details of a life lived well and thoughtfully. For me, she joins in a triumvirate with Ali Smith and Rachel Cusk of authors (perhaps not so coincidentally all female), who embody what I love most about writing, although I can't quite articulate why. Levy can - and often does - write about fairly mundane incidents, but in a way that makes them come alive and make one think about one's own existence and place in the world. What more can one ask for in a reading experience? Since I am woefully inadequate in explaining just why I love Levy (and I have read virtually everything she's written, except her plays, which I just find incomprehensible), and the wonders of this book in particular, I am just going to be lazy and direct your attention to an incredibly erudite explication of such by my good friend, Lee: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..., who does a much better job of it than I can. My sincere and grateful thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for the ARC in exchange for this honest and enthusiastic review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    This is the third instalment in Levy's Living Autobiography series, where each instalment chronicles her thoughts, struggles, and life-changes, during the small space of time it took to write them. I felt more distanced from this third book than the previous two but that is merely due to my personal history, as Levy's astounding penmanship and astute observations remained intact. This dealt initially with feelings of displacement and also heavily featured her family. The previous instalments have This is the third instalment in Levy's Living Autobiography series, where each instalment chronicles her thoughts, struggles, and life-changes, during the small space of time it took to write them. I felt more distanced from this third book than the previous two but that is merely due to my personal history, as Levy's astounding penmanship and astute observations remained intact. This dealt initially with feelings of displacement and also heavily featured her family. The previous instalments have focused, it felt to me, more on her writing and her internal struggles. These topics were ones I felt I could relate to more, but that does not in any way mean I disliked getting a better understanding of Levy's home life, here. Levy also continued to construct a series of compelling philosophical arguments and highlighted them alongside a political focus, her personal day-to-day life, and the emotions that go alongside it all. All of these aspects colluded to ensure this another book that transcended the confines of the autobiography genre and also made it another moving and powerful creation. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Deborah Levy, and the publisher, Hamish Hamilton, for this opportunity.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    In the couple of days before I read Real Estate, I took the time to re-visit the first two parts of Levy’s Living Autobiography (“Things I Don’t Want To Know” and “The Cost Of Living”). If, like me, you are a fan of Levy’s writing, these three books are a wonderful collection. Each one could be read separately, but they all build on some similar themes and work well together as a set. In each one, we spend time with Levy in a particular period in her life. Here, we follow Levy as she approaches h In the couple of days before I read Real Estate, I took the time to re-visit the first two parts of Levy’s Living Autobiography (“Things I Don’t Want To Know” and “The Cost Of Living”). If, like me, you are a fan of Levy’s writing, these three books are a wonderful collection. Each one could be read separately, but they all build on some similar themes and work well together as a set. In each one, we spend time with Levy in a particular period in her life. Here, we follow Levy as she approaches her sixtieth birthday. She is at a stage in life where her marriage has broken down and now her two daughters are moving into adult life and leaving home, so she suddenly finds herself contemplating living on her own for the first time in many, many years. She begins to long for a new home (new real estate), she is "collecting things for a parallel life, or a life not yet lived, a life that was waiting to be made”. I love the passages where Levy lets rip. For instance, this on the book’s title when she imagines having a housekeeper in her dream house and the life she will live. Her housekeeper says: Your soup is ready. I have fed your wolves and prepared the smoking pipe with your desired brand of tobacco. By the way, madame (my housekeeper’s lips were stained from the raspberries they had devoured for lunch), I note you are thinking about Real Estate. The word ‘Real’ derives from the Latin word ‘Rex’, meaning royal. ‘Real’ also means ‘king’ in Spanish, because kings used to own all the land in their kingdoms. For Lacan, the Real is everything that cannot be said. It has nothing to do with reality. Is there anything else you require before I run my bath and listen to Lana del Rey? In this period of her life, we move with Levy from London to New York to London to Mumbai to London to Paris to Berlin to Paris to London to Greece. There’s the narrative of a life being lived (it IS an autobiography, after all) but it is surrounded by Levy’s thoughts on motherhood, ageing, parenthood, writing, creativity and patriarchy (plus others). These are themes that run through all three books. One of the things I love about reading these books is the way an episode in her life will remind Levy of something or make her think about a specific topic but then that idea will join with all the others floating around in the book and become another motif that she can pluck out of the air 50 pages later then again, then again, then again bu mixed with another idea and then again mixed with other ideas. All this makes the whole thing a delight to read. The other thing that makes this book (in fact, all three books) so much fun for Levy fans is the insights into her writing. In the first two books, we learned quite a bit about Swimming Home and Hot Milk. Here, there is more focus on The Man Who Saw Everything., so we read comments like When it became clearer to me that the main male character in The Man Who Saw Everything was going to live simultaneously in different points in time… And we learn about the inspiration for the ylang-ylang fragrance that plays a significant role in that book. I could write a lot more about this book. I highlighted literally dozens of quotes, some for their beauty (e.g. Can we accept that writing is sacred and scared and it’s scarred as well…), some for their observations (this on the birth of Athena: Their daughter, Athena, the girl child, springs from his head dressed in full armour, defended and ready for war. That was the patriarchal script written for Athena. It is a sad way to be born: armoured and ready for war.) and some for the possible explanations of some of the reasons why I like Levy’s writing so much (this on the nightclub Silencio: Every room was designed by David Lynch, one of the film directors who had most inspired my approach to fiction). My thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley of this wonderful book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    3.5 rounded up The eagerly anticipated Real Estate, the final installment of Levy's "living autobiography" following the excellent Things I Don't Want to Know and The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography was a largely satisfying conclusion to the series. This volume focuses on the topic of the title - Levy's fascination with home, property, and her draw to finding what defines "home" for her -- divorced some years ago (the focus of the last book) and with her two daughters soon to fly the nest, 3.5 rounded up The eagerly anticipated Real Estate, the final installment of Levy's "living autobiography" following the excellent Things I Don't Want to Know and The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography was a largely satisfying conclusion to the series. This volume focuses on the topic of the title - Levy's fascination with home, property, and her draw to finding what defines "home" for her -- divorced some years ago (the focus of the last book) and with her two daughters soon to fly the nest, she travels domestically and abroad whilst meditating upon the topic, spending time in Paris and India along the way. Many readers have compared Levy's writing to Rachel Cusk and Ali Smith, so if you're a fan of either (or both!) then I'd highly recommend checking out this book and the wider series. Thank you Netgalley and Penguin UK for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chris Haak

    Another excellent installment in her 'Living biography' series (the final volume). In my opinion Deborah Levy -together with Ali Smith- is definitely one of best writers at this moment. She's just unable to write a bad book. 'Real Estate' is absolutely brilliant and I enjoyed it enormously! Thank you Penguin and Netgalley for the ARC. Another excellent installment in her 'Living biography' series (the final volume). In my opinion Deborah Levy -together with Ali Smith- is definitely one of best writers at this moment. She's just unable to write a bad book. 'Real Estate' is absolutely brilliant and I enjoyed it enormously! Thank you Penguin and Netgalley for the ARC.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Douglas

    As an avid book collector, it’s not uncommon for me to own several books by an author I have never read. When people visit my home library, I anticipate that one question I’m almost always asked, “Have you read all of them?” The answer’s always the same. No, but I hope I will. I bought my first Deborah Levy book, Swimming Home, shortly after it was nominated for the Booker Prize. I was instantly intrigued, and after reading the first few passages, I knew I was in the hands of a writer I would co As an avid book collector, it’s not uncommon for me to own several books by an author I have never read. When people visit my home library, I anticipate that one question I’m almost always asked, “Have you read all of them?” The answer’s always the same. No, but I hope I will. I bought my first Deborah Levy book, Swimming Home, shortly after it was nominated for the Booker Prize. I was instantly intrigued, and after reading the first few passages, I knew I was in the hands of a writer I would connect with. Still, for one reason or another, I didn’t actually read it. I bought 5 more Levy books in the following years, but still never read one. I haven’t entered a Goodreads Giveaway or reviewed an ARC in years, something I used to do regularly. I started entering a few months ago, but after dozens of no’s, I started to wonder if I lost my clout. Then, I got a yes. Deborah Levy’s Real Estate. Sometimes, you find a writer, and sometimes they find you. One word to describe this third installment of Levy’s living autobiography - sublime. Levy’s voice is a pure distillation of the joy and rage of living a life. Her sentences are not just poetic, but edible. Each short passage is like a museum tour of her thoughts. Levy seems to inhale her life and exhale onto the page. You’re seeing what she sees, smelling and tasting what she eats, feeling the emotions she feels, and this is all through language. Language is powerful, but it’s still just words. It takes a writer like Levy to bring life to words and language. Levy examines her travels, writing process, food, close friendships, her recent divorce, personal slights, and most importantly, her dreams of owning a grand piece of real estate. By the end of the book, it’s apparent the true real estate is the wealth of her mind, her prose the crown jewel. I hoped to include quotes and passages to back-up my claims about Levy’s brilliant sentences, but I left my review copy on a flight from LA to Texas. I finished the book as the sun went down in the skies above New Mexico, a place Levy references as one of her possible choices for real estate. I hope someone finds my copy and doesn’t wait years to read. I may not have a copy of Real Estate, but by owning several of her previous books, I can still claim a stake.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anastasiya Mozgovaya

    equally thrilling and heartbreaking. please sign me up for the Deborah Levy fan club.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I discovered Deborah Levy while living in Paris, thanks to a tweet by another California expat.. When I say "discover" I really mean I came upon her very late, after apparently everyone had already been reading her books for years. Brennan's tweet inspired me to seek out The Cost of Living at Galignani Bookstore on Rue de Rivoli. I devoured it in the way I devour a very specific kind of book: the kind that I have to stop reading every few pages because it inspires me to sit down and write. If I I discovered Deborah Levy while living in Paris, thanks to a tweet by another California expat.. When I say "discover" I really mean I came upon her very late, after apparently everyone had already been reading her books for years. Brennan's tweet inspired me to seek out The Cost of Living at Galignani Bookstore on Rue de Rivoli. I devoured it in the way I devour a very specific kind of book: the kind that I have to stop reading every few pages because it inspires me to sit down and write. If I remember the timeline correctly, soon after I bought The Cost of Living, Paris shut down for our first lockdown (or was it our second?). Paris was so tightly locked down that Galignani, Shakespeare and Company, and Red Wheelbarrow weren't even shipping books, so I had to wait for things to reopen to go back to Galignani for Things I Don't Want to Know: On Writing. When I saw Levy had a new book on the way I did backflips. In this latest volume, Levy muses on the "unreal estate" she dreams of owning---an estate on a beach, overlooking the sea, with pomegranate trees and all sorts of diversions. In reality she lives in a small flat in London and writes in a shed (this book finds her in a different shed than she used in Things I Don't Want to Know.) Her Best Male Friend returns in this book, acting in ways that may disappoint the reader (cheating on the long suffering Nadia, for example), but never fail to entertain. Taken as a set, these three books allow the reader to enter Levy's life at different moments, as though looking through different windows on a moving train.  Through her engaging, self-deprecating, wide-ranging voice, one glimpses intimately the sweep and tilt of one woman's literary life. A joy to read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beth Bonini

    4.75 stars This is the third volume in Deborah Levy's 'Living Autobiography' trilogy, and much as The Cost of Living did, this one speaks straight to my heart and mind and also (pertinently, importantly) to the stage of life I am at. It also speaks to my love for metaphor, for analogy, and for other not-so-obvious connections. Her overarching theme, as the title states, is 'real estate' - and in characteristic fashion, she explores that theme through the precise details of her own life, stories, 4.75 stars This is the third volume in Deborah Levy's 'Living Autobiography' trilogy, and much as The Cost of Living did, this one speaks straight to my heart and mind and also (pertinently, importantly) to the stage of life I am at. It also speaks to my love for metaphor, for analogy, and for other not-so-obvious connections. Her overarching theme, as the title states, is 'real estate' - and in characteristic fashion, she explores that theme through the precise details of her own life, stories, other writers' observations and poetic and playful comparisons of every kind. Like Levy, I am obsessed with the idea of real estate - in its literal, metaphorical, emotional and even financial sense. On the verge of turning 60, Levy finds herself longing for a substantial house (a permanent home). Her thoughts and dreams obsessively fixate on dwellings of different kinds and a substantial portion of the book is devoted to the different furnishings she collects (in preparation for?) this future home. Real estate does not just refer to property ownership, though, far from it; Levy cleverly plays with the meaning of the word 'real' and mostly explores what is imagined (both real and unreal). The structure of the memoir directly contradicts Levy's longing for real estate, although it is simultaneously an expression of that longing. Each chapter describes the life of an itinerant writer in temporary, mostly minimally furnished homes: in Mumbai, in London, in New York City, in Paris, in Berlin, in Greece. The writer experiences homesickness at a double remove: first, from her childhood home in South Africa; secondly, from her adopted home in London. The idea of identity is explored from many angles, and many of the other people who Levy mingles with in the book are also citizens of the world. In other words, of no fixed address. The idea of home is fluid, although some people (the writer's daughters, her male best friend) are more permanently fixed. Having said that, their lives, too, are in flux. There is a spareness to Levy's writing, and yet it encompasses so much. So, so much. She doesn't speak only to women's experience, but she speaks so specifically and powerfully of women's experience. I feel that I will return to this book (the entire trilogy) again and again. It was a pure pleasure to read - not just because of the simplicity and elegance of its prose - but also because of the ideas it examines, and perhaps even more importantly, the questions it poses.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sandrine V

    I think Real Estate is my favourite part of Levy’s 'Living Autobiography' trilogy. As she approaches her sixtieth birthday, she reflects on her legacy her physical property and possessions - ultimately, what she will be leaving behind one day. Her youngest daughter is moving to University and she finds herself in Paris for a writers’ retreat. This book is sort of a collection of her daily thoughts and musings. I enjoyed when she described what her ‘unreal property’ would look like, and the fact I think Real Estate is my favourite part of Levy’s 'Living Autobiography' trilogy. As she approaches her sixtieth birthday, she reflects on her legacy her physical property and possessions - ultimately, what she will be leaving behind one day. Her youngest daughter is moving to University and she finds herself in Paris for a writers’ retreat. This book is sort of a collection of her daily thoughts and musings. I enjoyed when she described what her ‘unreal property’ would look like, and the fact that she never stopped herself from living and trying new things.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Story

    Billions and billions of stars. So in love with this book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Professor Weasel

    Well, I binge-read this and Things I Don't Want to Know in one day, and I'm SO glad I did. I'm really glad I waited for all three of these books to come out before reading them, as I think it contributed a lot to my experience to read them in succession. UGH, I JUST LOVE DEBORAH LEVY... I WANT TO BE HER... SHE'S MY HERO... I AM SO FILLED WITH ADMIRATION... The main thread of this book is houses - the titular real estate. I loved the structure of this book, which follows Levy from Mumbai to Paris Well, I binge-read this and Things I Don't Want to Know in one day, and I'm SO glad I did. I'm really glad I waited for all three of these books to come out before reading them, as I think it contributed a lot to my experience to read them in succession. UGH, I JUST LOVE DEBORAH LEVY... I WANT TO BE HER... SHE'S MY HERO... I AM SO FILLED WITH ADMIRATION... The main thread of this book is houses - the titular real estate. I loved the structure of this book, which follows Levy from Mumbai to Paris to Greece, for various writing festivals and a residency. It is not bougie or annoying at all. I prefer Levy SO much more to Olivia Laing, who I found so unbearably, painfully bougie that I couldn't get past the first ten pages of Crudo. Give me Levy anyday! One of the funnest things about reading Levy are the incredible vivid details, and the way minor moments or objects keep reoccuring, and acquire a strange power. She is obsessed with keys, for instant, or with a moment discussing 'likeable' older female characters with film executives. She loves Leonora Carrington, and Marguerite Duras. Like Patti Smith and Bolaño, her enthusiasm and love for other creatives and artists is so life-affirming. I found Levy's reckoning with her younger self in this book incredibly moving. "I did not want to see her too clearly. But I did try to wave at her. I knew she would not want to see me (so there you are, nearly sixty and alone) and I did not want to see her either (so there you are, forty years old, hiding your talent, trying to keep your family together), but she and I haunted each other across time." The book contains such beautiful messages about aging, and reckoning with the lives never lived. "My younger self (fierce, sad) knew that I did not judge her. We had both lost and gained various things in the twenty years that separated us." Overall, this trilogy was a beautiful and valuable read I think I will treasure and continuously return to. "Those invisible years raising our children and getting to grips with all those parathas were some of the most formative years of my life. I didn't know it then, but I was becoming the writer I wanted to be. I was going to step into her and she was going to step into me." "I was finding a way through the forest (wearing silver platform boots) to meet the wolf. Who or what is the wolf? Perhaps the wolf is the whole point of writing." "I guessed that no woman around that table had ruthlessly pursued her own dreams and desires at the expense of everyone else. "It seemed to me all over again that in every phase of living we do not have to conform to the way our life has been written for us, especially by those who are less imaginative than ourselves." When discussing the unexpected pleasure of cooking for her teenage daughters and her friends: "Perhaps it was even a political pleasure to nourish young women, who had such a hard time. Most of all I liked their appetite - yes, for the dish prepared, but for life itself. I wanted them to find strength for all they had to do in the world." "Is it domestic space, or is it just a space for living? And if it is a space for living, then no one's life has more value than another, no one can take up most of that space or spray their moods in every room or intimidate anyone else. It seems to me that domestic space is gendered and that a space for living is more fluid." "For some reason I had never wavered from my own sense of literary purpose. In this sense I had taken myself seriously. Sometimes the phrase she takes herself seriously is seen as a flaw, as if taking herself seriously indicates she has aspirations beyond her reach."

  19. 5 out of 5

    Shadab

    My e-book is filled with green highlights, while I nodded and smiled through these sentences, and I guess that is saying something. Much like Levy, I also see myself living in a house and worry that I might run out of branches to put in the fire. Anyway, it's been deeply consoling reading her living autobiographies, and I really don't see any reason why it should end with this one. My e-book is filled with green highlights, while I nodded and smiled through these sentences, and I guess that is saying something. Much like Levy, I also see myself living in a house and worry that I might run out of branches to put in the fire. Anyway, it's been deeply consoling reading her living autobiographies, and I really don't see any reason why it should end with this one.

  20. 5 out of 5

    s.

    4.5 stars every installment of 'living autobiography' was a joy to read and real estate was such a satisfying conclusion to the series. deborah levy's writing + voice is so so excellent and compelling and i'll always be in awe of the way she structures thoughts and emotions and narratives, especially ones revolving around womanhood 4.5 stars every installment of 'living autobiography' was a joy to read and real estate was such a satisfying conclusion to the series. deborah levy's writing + voice is so so excellent and compelling and i'll always be in awe of the way she structures thoughts and emotions and narratives, especially ones revolving around womanhood

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    I love Levy's writing style and loved the first two memoirs in this loose series. This one though didn't really work for me - I found the conversations around wanting to buy a house and all her rich friends with their second houses, and her flat in london... just ended up feeling all a bit privileged and upper middle class. also this just went from one random story to the next, from paris, to greece, from banana plants to Leonard Cohen.... and they were kinda a bit banal. I love Levy's writing style and loved the first two memoirs in this loose series. This one though didn't really work for me - I found the conversations around wanting to buy a house and all her rich friends with their second houses, and her flat in london... just ended up feeling all a bit privileged and upper middle class. also this just went from one random story to the next, from paris, to greece, from banana plants to Leonard Cohen.... and they were kinda a bit banal.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Burt

    I don't think I have read a memoir as beautifully written as this one. A successful woman who's youngest daughter has just left home so instead of moping about it, goes take a sabbatical in Paris. This is a book that tells you how you can be a modern 60 year-old woman with grace, style and panache. I don't think I have read a memoir as beautifully written as this one. A successful woman who's youngest daughter has just left home so instead of moping about it, goes take a sabbatical in Paris. This is a book that tells you how you can be a modern 60 year-old woman with grace, style and panache.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Cindy C

    Didn't realize this was already out until I saw it at the bookstore. I can't even describe the flush of excitement. I feel bereft without Deborah Levy's voice in my ear, and wish her memoirs were each a 1000 pages, so I could have companionship with her every single day. But it is more than enough to have this new one and the last two, though I mourn that there will be no more. What will her 70s be like? A force I'm sure. Never a character who needs to be liked. I wish her all of brogues, tumeric Didn't realize this was already out until I saw it at the bookstore. I can't even describe the flush of excitement. I feel bereft without Deborah Levy's voice in my ear, and wish her memoirs were each a 1000 pages, so I could have companionship with her every single day. But it is more than enough to have this new one and the last two, though I mourn that there will be no more. What will her 70s be like? A force I'm sure. Never a character who needs to be liked. I wish her all of brogues, tumeric silk sheets, banana trees, and other objects to keep her in good company. I hope she decides to write about those years too. I've read and re-read each of her memoirs in a different place. And so it's magic to read this for the first time in London as I watch the rain. Because it's partly her writing that has guided me here to London, though that's a simplifying narrative because London is the outer manifestation and where she's truly guided me is an interior place of my own choosing, out of society's narrative for me. I remember reading her first in California and writing in my notebook "she dreams of sunshine in California and I dream of London in the rain". And now I'm here, looking out at the tree and life and thinking and reading. Not a sympathetic character subsumed in someone else's story, but myself out in the wilderness alive with desire, protected and guided by her writing. I want to thank her, for showing me how to ruthlessly pursue my own dreams. --- Quotes: She speaks of Virginia Woolf, "If I feel that her books speak calmly to me about the things that enraged her, I can nevertheless hear her rage, her breath, her chair creaking as she rearranges the position of her legs while she writes." I feel the same way of her. I highlight almost everything in this book, but here are words that I love, though I love them all. "I asked Agnes why playing mothers, grandmothers, great-aunts and eccentric spinsters were seen as a demotion? It occurred to me that what was wrong with the scripts what that the mothers and grandmothers were always there to police the more interesting desires of others, or to comfort them or to be wise and dull. The more eccentric older women were there to provide comedy. These sorts of characters were mostly unattached to men. There were no female characters who had full lives of their own - particularly lives in which they felt content. No, they were portrayed as looking after their elderly husbands, or they were lonely, bereft of company, or sick and ailing, or they were tyrants in the domestic sphere, they were mad. Why were they written like that?" On an red-faced, famous author at a party "If his class and education had taught him to regard his own thoughts as monumental, it had not taught him to read the work of women or writers of colour. Therefore he was bereft of some of the most important ideas for the world and the most exciting innovations with form. Yet his shameful ignorance had take him a long way. In my reckoning, just one paragraph alone from ...W.E.B Du Bois was worth more than every book written by the red-faced writer."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Malwina

    As a huge fan of Deborah levy's writing (ok, let's face it, I am obsessed), I was very excited to read the last installment in her autobiography series and honestly it was so worth it. Her storytelling abilities, the unique approach to life, her people reading and analysis, the honesty, the musings on aging, love, friendship, gender roles... the appreciation of culture and food and the bohemian lifestyle. What's not to love? I wish I could just hang out with her and talk Almodovar or Lynch and dr As a huge fan of Deborah levy's writing (ok, let's face it, I am obsessed), I was very excited to read the last installment in her autobiography series and honestly it was so worth it. Her storytelling abilities, the unique approach to life, her people reading and analysis, the honesty, the musings on aging, love, friendship, gender roles... the appreciation of culture and food and the bohemian lifestyle. What's not to love? I wish I could just hang out with her and talk Almodovar or Lynch and drink wine or party at Silencio together. She's possibly the most hip author in her sixties I can think of! I mean, I could go on forever why DL is the real deal, but I urge you to find out for yourself. A MUST READ <3

  25. 4 out of 5

    Karen Foster

    I just loved this third part to Deborah Levy’s “living autobiography”. As she contemplates the meaning of ‘home’ and muses on an ‘unreal’ estate, a fantasy of where she may see herself…. I became more in love with Levy’s writing. Both straightforward and also dream-like, I love the way she expresses the simplest action or deepest felt emotion so expertly. This series of slim memoirs, give such beautiful insight into the inner life of a writer, but also somehow speaks as feminist manifesto for rel I just loved this third part to Deborah Levy’s “living autobiography”. As she contemplates the meaning of ‘home’ and muses on an ‘unreal’ estate, a fantasy of where she may see herself…. I became more in love with Levy’s writing. Both straightforward and also dream-like, I love the way she expresses the simplest action or deepest felt emotion so expertly. This series of slim memoirs, give such beautiful insight into the inner life of a writer, but also somehow speaks as feminist manifesto for relationships, work life and ambition. Loved it. 💕

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Steed

    I thought The Cost of Living was perfect. This was better. I want to live in Deborah Levy’s head.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Looooove!!!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Loïc Blondeel

    exquisite, returning to the cost of living and things I don’t want to know ASAP

  29. 4 out of 5

    Danielle McClellan

    This book, the third volume of a series of non-fiction, is a delight in every way.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Coombe

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. If I could give this more stars I would. Levy is just everything, and I devoured this book, feeling so acutely what the author feels about her 'unreal estate' that it was almost uncanny. She is a genius and a dream to read. If I could give this more stars I would. Levy is just everything, and I devoured this book, feeling so acutely what the author feels about her 'unreal estate' that it was almost uncanny. She is a genius and a dream to read.

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