A theatre producer, a 'woman of a certain age' and a widow, falls in love in the midst of working on a play. The story raises topics on longing, grief, independence, ageing, shame, women and passion, what being 'in love' is all about.
Desire, being desired, infatuation, deep love, but mostly, being ready for Love.
One doesn't read Doris Lessing for plot or action. She's read for well-formed characters on emotional journeys. And then the reader is gifted with her mastery of psychological insight. In the latter, she's a modern-day Eliot.
People carry around with them this weight of longing, usually, thank heavens, well out of sight and 'latent' - like an internal bruise? - and then, for no obvious reason, just like that, there he was (who?), and onto him is projected the longing, with love.
Love, Again (1996) isn't my favourite, but nevertheless Lessing still managed to make me feel. And not in the obvious ways. Not in grief for the dying or sadness for unrequited love. Instead, for the in-between emotions. The states of turmoil, confusion, and even numbness, that occur in the space of two people's silence, or when one is alone reflecting one's life.
Our protagonist doesn't bog herself down questioning what is true love, but rather contemplates the state of love, of being ready and open to love. While her insights are astute and emotionally charge the reader, I did find the analytical slant occasionally bordered on lecture.
Lessing also meanders a little and the reflections are not as tight as they could be. So overall a 3 or 3.5 star novel. Give it a try if you find it in your library, and if you enjoy reading subtle and wry nuances of feeling.