22. Good Morning, Midnight, Jean Rhys (1939)

I got very obsessed by Jean Rhys in the 90s, and read everything she ever wrote as well as the hair-raising biography by Carole Angier. She’s best known now for The Wide Sargasso Sea, but it’s a very uncharacteristic work. I much prefer the earlier group of novels about solitary women struggling to maintain dignity and independence while drinking themselves into a stupor in Paris and London – highly autobiographical, very short and written with painful candour. Good Morning, Midnight is the most successful, and the most harrowing. In theory, I shouldn’t really like this book: it’s got no plot to speak of, it’s oblique and experimental and all those other things that usually turn me off. But for once the technical oddity is there for a reason: these words were dredged up directly from the bottom of a glass and splatted on to the page. After she wrote this, Rhys disappeared for over 20 years. When she finally got the recognition she deserved in the 60s, she said ‘it has come too late’. How could I not love her?

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1 Comment

Filed under My top 100 novels

One response to “22. Good Morning, Midnight, Jean Rhys (1939)

  1. Rich

    I agree, her earlier novels are far better than ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’. I keep recommending them to others who have read ‘Wide….’ but nobody seems interested but I love them.

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