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This review is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

I HAVE MET HELEN THOMAS Helen Thomas, Time & Again (Carcanet) £4.00.

Time & Again is divided into four parts: Helen Thomas's memoirs of her early days, as Nellie Noble, from her birth in 1877 until her meeting with her future husband, Edward Thomas, in 1894; a selection of her letters, mostly to her closest friend, Janet Hooten (née Aldis), but including three to Edward and one to Eleanor Farjeon, covering the period 1896-1917; further recollections of, among others, D. H. Lawrence and W. H. Davies; and an account by Myfanwy Thomas, beginning with her own childhood, and including more letters and prose sketches, together with two verses, by Helen, of Helen's years without Edward, until her death in 1967. The book concludes with eight pages of family photographs.

More than a supplement to As It Was and World Without End, for which it provides a wider context, Time & Again is itself a fascinating and deeply moving book. If the main reasons for this are the personality and expressive powers of Helen Thomas, the hand of her youngest child, Myfanwy, contributes more than a good editor's organizing ability. Her linking and, where necessary, explanatory narrative, and especially her biographical cum autobiographical account of Helen's later years, show qualities of sensitive observation and vivid presentation, of people, places and things, that equal her mother's.

But Helen is the centre of the book: Helen, though Edward Thomas was her centre, and he lives here through her relation to him, in her living, then recollection, of their life together, ...


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