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Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681376110
Pages: 192
Publication Date: August 15, 2023

Don't Look At Me Like That

by Diana Athill, introduction by Helen Oyeyemi

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England, in the mid-fifties. Meg Bailey has always aspired to live a respectable life. With her best friend, Roxane, she moves from secondary school to an un-Bohemian art college in Oxford. Under the watchful eye of Roxanne’s mother, Mrs. Wheeler, the two girls flourish in Oxfordian society. But Meg constantly longs for more. Not content to stay in Oxford, she finds a job in London. Roxane stays behind and marries Dick, a man of Mrs. Wheeler’s choosing.

As Meg’s independence grows, Dick suddenly appears in London for work. A connection to her past, Meg and Dick’s friendship flourishes, blurring the lines of loyalty between what is and what was in a way that changes life for these three friends forever.

As sharp and startling now as when it was written, this unflinching and candid book of love and betrayal encapsulates Diana Athill’s gift of storytelling at its finest.


Don't Look at Me Like That evokes a London of rain; grimy bedsits, plush, hushed restaurants, illicitness and despair. . . Athill skillfully blends diffidence and pathos to produce a story at once all-too familiar and unique.
—Catherine Taylor

Athill is wonderful—always aware of the need to entertain and beguile her reader. . . Fascinating and surprising.
—Daisy Goodwin, Sunday Times

[The writing] shows [Athill's] editor's eye. . . This novel shows not so much that Athill should have written more fiction—we wouldn't want to be without those memoirs—but that she could.
—John Self, The Guardian

Diana Athill’s writing is warm, straightforward, natural, enveloping. A blanketing comfort for a sore heart, a fuzzy head. . . . Athill’s skill as a writer of feelings is on full display. She is incisive without coming off as mean or angry, clear without being flat.
—Charles-Adam Foster-Simard, The Millions