Read The Blue Hour: A Portrait of Jean Rhys (Bloomsbury Lives of Women) by Lilian Pizzichini Free Online
Book Title: The Blue Hour: A Portrait of Jean Rhys (Bloomsbury Lives of Women)|
The author of the book: Lilian Pizzichini
Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Date of issue: May 3rd 2010
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 742 KB
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Reader ratings: 6.5
ISBN 13: 9781408801222
Read full description of the books:
It's not always possible to feel you would like Jean Rhys as a person when you read the highly autobiographical content of her extraordinary, slender novels. There is a callousness to her, an element of self pity, a morose side to her personality. I read this biography to see if her life justifies the negativity that seemed to cloak her.
The problem is it's not the best written biography… Pizzichini refers so often to Rhys' own (unfinished) account of her life, 'Smile Please,' that half way through I started to think I should have perhaps just read that instead. I am not sure making the book you are writing obsolete is such a good idea. There is also a lifelessness to the work that matches the lows of Rhys' life but not enough to reflect the odd highs. Worst of all Pizzichini can't help but reach too far in fictionalising elements of the story, imagining what Rhys was thinking. None the less, it was at times an illuminating read, evidencing how easy it was for respectable women to fall in the early twentieth century. It also illustrates how Jean always felt, as a white Caribbean, an outsider. While growing up in Dominica she felt the native islanders distrusted her and her family's former slave-keeping ways (she also felt she did not belong in her family, which is traumatising in itself); after emigrating to England her accent was scorned as ridiculous and strange. She was out of step every where she went.
It's easy to be sensationalist about Rhys. She had a brief career as a prostitute, hung out with the likes of Hemingway in Paris, had an affair with Ford Madox Ford (along with a number of other married men), had a history of abandoning her children, was something of an alcoholic, a husband-beater with regard to at least one of her three husbands, was in constant trouble later in life with the police for violence and disturbing the peace and even ended up in jail for a time. But Pizzichini hits the nail on the head when she says that Rhys should simply have written more for it was the peace that writing gave her that calmed the inner roil that constantly threatened to make her go under. And Rhys was a phenomenal writer, producing work that is somehow ethereal despite being seeped in desperation. My advice would be to pick up any of her novels over this biography. You will see Jean Rhys in them, warts and all, and while you might not always like the turns she makes you will appreciate the powerlessness of her position as a woman of slender means in the twentieth century. That's the synopsis of her story.
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