Best Books of the Month Shop Men's Shoes Learn more nav_sap_plcc_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums All-New Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote Subscribe & Save Amazon Gift Card Offer blacklist blacklist blacklist  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage Shop Now STEM Toys & Games
Ardent Spirits: Leaving Home, Coming Back and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Buy Used
Condition: Used: Like New
Comment: Enjoy this book. It could almost pass as new and is in gift giving condition. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Ardent Spirits: Leaving Home, Coming Back Hardcover – May 12, 2009

12 customer reviews

See all 4 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$5.51 $0.03

"Almost Interesting" by David Spade
Sometimes dirty, always funny, and as sharp as a tack. Check out "Almost Interesting", by David Spade. See more comic memoirs

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this new memoir, award-winning novelist Price (Kate Vaiden) takes up where his 1989 Clear Pictures left off—with a young Price heading for England on a Rhodes scholarship, a young man lighting into new and unfamiliar territories and the lessons he learns about literature, life and love. Covering the years 1955 to 1961, Price chronicles the challenges of living in a strange place, his emotional insecurities and his anxieties about his ability to complete the thesis on Milton, his adventures in Europe with a close friend and his eventual return to his alma mater, Duke University, to teach writing and literature. Along the way, Price recalls his friendships with Stephen Spender, Cyril Connolly, W.H. Auden and his brief encounters with Jean-Paul Sartre and J.R.R. Tolkien. Price's memoir also displays the tenacious desire with which, after warm encouragement from Eudora Welty and William Styron, he embarks on a round of writing that produces his first novel, A Long and Happy Life, published to acclaim in 1962. Although the detail can be tiresomely meticulous, Price, as usual, powerfully articulates the strength of memory in shaping our lives and gracefully draws us into a literary life lived fully. Photos. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

In his third memoir (after A Whole New Life), award-winning author Price details his life from 1955 to 1961—his studies at Oxford, where he befriended W.H. Auden and met such writers as Robert Frost and Eudora Welty; his European travels; and the beginning of his Duke teaching career. The detailed stories he includes come from copies of letters he wrote to his mother and brother. Two underlying streams in this memoir are Price's homosexuality and the beginning of his first novel, A Long and Happy Life, which he refers to as his "pregnant-girl story." Price's true friendship with an Oxford classmate, Michael Jordan, and his intimate relationship with Matyas, a British academic, reveal Price's personal growth during his studies. He outlines the universal writer's dilemma of working the "necessary job" to pay the bills while struggling to begin a writing career. Readers will identify with his journey and eventual satisfaction. Recommended for all academic collections.—Joyce Sparrow, JWB Children's Svcs. Council, Clearwater, FL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (May 12, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743291891
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743291897
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,676,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Reynolds Price was born in Macon, North Carolina in 1933. Educated at Duke University and, as a Rhodes Scholar, at Merton College, Oxford University, he has taught at Duke since 1958 and is now James B. Duke Professor of English.

His first short stories, and many later ones, are published in his Collected Stories. A Long and Happy Life was published in 1962 and won the William Faulkner Award for a best first novel. Kate Vaiden was published in 1986 and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. The Good Priest's Son in 2005 was his fourteenth novel. Among his thirty-seven volumes are further collections of fiction, poetry, plays, essays, and translations. Price is a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and his work has been translated into seventeen languages.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Foster Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Reynolds Price describes the period of his life he writes about here, those heady years from 1955 to 1961 as a time of "high adult happiness," and that although he has experienced sadness-- what adult has not-- that he has also known a "great deal of unmitigated joy," a good way to describe the pleasure of reading this his third memoir. I remember being so taken by his first CLEAR PICTURES, that covers his childhood and young life up to 1954, because he writes so lovingly and without a hint of reproach about his parents, something not always found in memoirs these days. (In this memoir he writes often of his grief of losing his father and describes him as "that good man.") Mr. Price's A WHOLE NEW LIFE, an account of his bout with cancer and healing and life thereafter, should be required reading for medical students. Now he has written about his time at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and his first years of teaching English at Duke and finishing his first novel A LONG AND HAPPY LIFE, that was published in 1961.

ARDENT SPIRITS-- a beautiful title, the origin of which Mr. Price reveals in his introduction-- is one of those books that you want to lope ahead in and can hardly put down. The author met so many fascinating people in England-- Stephen Spender, W. H. Auden, Robert Frost, Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Vivien Leigh et al.-- spent time with some of them and traveled over much of Europe during vacations. With his writerly genius, he is able in a few words to persuade the reader of the sublimity of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel and the horrors of Dachau, the two "most impressive" things he saw in his travels. Who would have wanted to miss Auden's characterization of Emily Dickinson's poetry as "'very little-bitty at times'"?
Read more ›
4 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Elizabeth Wilson on June 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read most of Mr. Price's work -- ranging from poetry to essays to plays, fiction and, this most recent work, memoir. Each volume is better than the one before. It's almost unfair that anyone should be able to write so beautifully, with such grace, and with such -- what? Compassion, wisdom, insightfulness. His remembrances of his years as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University range from meeting the extraordinary luminaries of the time -- from Olivier and Gielgud, and most fondly Vivien Leigh,Stephen Spender, and W. H. Auden -- to the everyday folk who populated his world: his "landlady," his college friends, his lover. I felt I was there with him every day -- that's how well his writing encompasses the reader.

There is, in addition to his commitment to a life as a writer, an equal commitment to being a teacher. He quotes from a speech he gave at the ripe old age of 17, and as he says, while it may sound "mildly absurd," it should be -- especially in today's age of twitter and facebook -- a mantra for any teacher:

"Dryden said, 'By education most have been misled'...The effectiveness of English teaching is in direct radio to the teacher's ability to bring students to the realization that English is life. The teacher must take his subject out of the classroom and into the world, for English is not a subject. It is life. So long as we remain heirs of the English heritage, whether we speak, think, act, see or hear, we must use the English language -- and we must employ it with accuracy, intelligence and understanding. Socrates said, 'The soul takes nothing with her to the other world but her education and culture; and these, it is said, are of the greatest injury to the dead man at the very beginning of his journey thither.'...
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on June 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book makes a significant contribution to the field of contemporary memoir. It is an outstanding autobiography. Price is a gifted writer who captures what it must have been like to leave home for the first time and embark on a journey of personal discovery in the hallowed colleges of Oxford. He mixes easily with Auden and Spender but he also descibes his landlady with equal affection. Above all there is a sensitive heart beating in this man and one is left with a tremendous sense of humanity and hope. I could not put this but down and as with all great reads, I was sorry when it was finished.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tim October on September 7, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
The first fifteen pages of Price's engaging memoir are truly memorable. They are thoughtful in that, a man who would meet with great success in his own later life, reflects in a credible way (if not particularly insightful way) on the road ahead of him.

The great problems begin to arise once he steps off of the boat at Oxford. As an old man, Price has evolved a certain perception of himself and the world that ultimately consumes his memoir and eventually totally alienates the reader. One problem is that the book is a memoir-as-travelogue (even those first worthwhile pages) without much in the way of serious self-analysis. Rather, I imagine this book is much like "And then I saw the pyramids. (three pages of description of the pyramids and how you explored them)" except "pyramids" might be replaced by all of the notables that Price happened upon in these middle-early years of his life.

He talks a lot about being alone for instance, but was never lonely. He had lovers (a lover), but he never loved. Or even, it seems, cared deeply enough to share what it was to be truly vulnerable to another person. In the end, we learn a lot about who and what Reynolds Price thinks is valuable (classical music, certain foods, certain plays, and authors) and what he thinks is wrong (laws against homosexuality, or the adoption of the word 'Gay' as a descriptive term) but ultimately anything worth finding out about the man is hidden beneath a suit of lyric armor. Sure, in our thrusts-and-parries with the narrative we find a few gems (Reynolds liked New Criticism?! -- conveniently they are often set off just this way from the main text) but all that is conveniently stashed away in the romantic haze of this (likely last) reflection on his life.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews