A loving portrait of her mother forms the core of Diane Keaton’s memoir, Then Again. In writing about her own life, she believed it only fitting to share her mother’s journey, showing how their bond came to define both of their lives.
Dorothy Deanne Keaton Hall was an artist in her own way, creating collages, writing in numerous journals, and revealing herself in some depth. She was also the mother of four, a wife, and a homemaker.
Alternating between Diane’s thoughts and feelings and those of her mother’s, we come to learn bits and pieces of their lives. Interconnected as they were, a memoir would not be complete without both of their stories.
As a big fan of Diane Keaton, I enjoyed learning more about the early years and her movies. But her connections to her family of origin, as well as to the family she created with her adopted children, made for an intriguing journey of its own. She poses questions about loss and why Alzheimer’s disease chooses to victimize some and not others, asking what, if anything, one can do to avoid the onslaught of the disease. Pointing out how the sadness of this loss for a woman who loved words, like her mother, seemed especially cruel.
The little goodbyes in life lead us inevitably toward our final goodbyes, and thus to the final answers: What happens then? The transient nature of life, with all its passages, is a major theme in this memoir, as well as how life’s dreams, even when achieved, can be fleeting.
The story wended its way through time, back and forth, reminding us of the author’s somewhat fragmented style of speech, a quirkiness that reveals itself as her true voice. It was hard for me to separate my admiration for the actress and the woman from the book that left me wanting to know more. There was much more she could have told us, but perhaps that will come to us in another story. 3.5 stars.