Not that she’s above a bit of petty judgment or caustic observation. The obese come under fire — although Morris observes that she is “genuinely ashamed” of her prejudice. Anyone who has anything to do with zoos comes in for harsher treatment. Zoos are “jails for living creatures utterly innocent of crime, imprisoned without trial”. It’s a conversation starter to which I found myself in part agreeing, but . . .The beauty of Morris’ work is how she takes the reader along in a dialogue. Her style is chatty, loose and engaging. And there’s humour:
But it is its limitations that makes this book valuable and rare. It reveals so much about how to soldier on in your 90s. Old age is not for sissies and Morris is a trouper, keeping faith with the writing life. It is remarkable to be writing a book at 91, yet what grips is not so much her thoughts about the world (towards which she turns and turns away) but her sense of the rhythms of domestic life...If there is some retreading of turf, this fits the book’s diurnal structure: the same things come round again. The nature of patriotism. Welshness. The troubling state of the world. And she ends by describing (not for the first time) the consolations of a bowl of mussels and a good glass of white wine by the sea. Cheers, Jan!
Morris aficionados will not find much new material here since some stories are reheated from earlier work. By her own admission, her writing degenerates into “rambling” and “talking nonsense”, but then few nonagenarians have written 50 books to such an acclaimed standard.
Her cheerfulness and passion are still to the fore and, for her, the “ultimate virtue of kindness” remains a leitmotif, but the energy and inventiveness that characterises Morris’s writing capturing the genius loci is missing. There is an absence of any insight into the present world turmoil or of a light being shone on turbulent times.
it is a thing of wonder: a diary of daily musings with zero pretension. It is light yet profound, ecstatic yet melancholy, ethereal yet droll. Which writer could breezily contain so many contradictions, like Tiresias with jokes? ...Old age has been kind to her. It sounds a pain to live through, but stylistically it’s great. She is more nimble and friendly on the page than ever, a little afflicted by exclamation marks, yes, but with a heightened perspective.