The irrepressible Morris--author of such classics as Venice and Trieste--is at it again offering a vibrant set of reminiscences that wax on the ironies of modern life in all their resonant glories and inevitable stupidities.
She is much more than grumpy, indeed despairing, about the hideous state of the world: 'wars and rumours of wars…sleazy capitalism and dubious diplomacy, democracy coarsened, loyalties abandoned, religions squabbling, footling gossip and squalid accusations.' Her main feeling, in old age, is 'Count me out.' ... her way of writing about the onset of her 'dear old friend' and partner’s dementia is as touching and truthful—and humorous—as was her writing many years before about transitioning, and probably as helpful to others in the same situation.
A beguilingly supple narrative, able to absorb all the contradictions and revisions that mark a long, well-remembered life ... These revelations, from someone who insists on rereading a chapter of Anna Karenina every night, come as a jolt. But that, of course, is the great joy of the diary format. It allows a personality to unfold without any requirement that the author smoothes out the snags. The result isn’t exactly unvarnished – Morris admits that she still spends an inordinate amount of energy crafting her prose before setting it before us – but it gets us closer to the sources of her art than we have been before.
While her views are thought-provoking and provide a social snapshot, they present a problem as the world has moved on and news events have overtaken her writing: Trump has since been impeached, Brexit has finally happened and Harry and Meghan have fled to Canada. Parts of the book are tinged with sadness. The most moving passages are about her once wife and now civil partner Elizabeth (they married in 1949), who has dementia ... Many of these pieces are trivial, some fall flat while others have a spark ...Thinking Again is a reflective collection but its underlying tone is melancholy with a sense of self-aggrandisement ... A weary resignation with the world persists in her musings, at odds with a writer who lived a restless and swashbuckling life. There are flashes of vivacity – she enjoys the power of certain words and can still turn an evocative phrase. An acerbic wit and gentle playfulness is apparent in some entries, and although many are insignificant, she is surely to be applauded for her indomitable spirit, battling on in the writing business in her tenth decade, reflecting life’s twists and turns when younger scribes would have called it a day.