Hello there, fellow readers and bloggers!
So now you know one of my favourite writers, for today’s 30DBC I’ll kindly cover my favourite book from said author, Jean Rhys. That book is …
Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys
First of all, doesn’t the title of the novel sound so gorgeously poetic? “Good Morning, Midnight”. It’s like the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Hello darkness, my old friend I’ve come to talk with you again …” It’s like a familiarity only with the darkness – which perfectly depicts the story of the novelas the protagonist, Sasha Jensen, has the habit of walking among shadows.
In Jean Rhys’ Good Morning, Midnight, the protagonist, Sasha Jensen, tries to mould herself into Parisian society after she devastatingly separates from her husband and her newborn child.
It can be suggested that Sasha is a walking contradiction. After attempting to kill herself off from society by over-drinking, she is now trying to fit into society by socially drinking with random people she meets on the streets. However the repression of her emotions and psychological confusion with the world and the people who inhabit it (and especially herself) cannot be contained by these routines.
Instead her evident lack of identity manifests through the hysterical behaviour of Rhys’ language which drunkenly muddles the semantic boundaries and binary oppositions of happiness and depression. It forces readers to question – is contentment and desolation one in the same thing?
I wrote in my post yesterday that Rhys is a writer who can capture the lost soul of a woman. Sasha Jensen is just that, a woman who is absolutely and inconsolably lost. And, at the same time, she is not desperate to find herself. And this manifests in Rhys’ writing:
My life, which seems so simple and monotonous, is really a complicated affair of cafés where they like me and cafés where they don’t, streets that are friendly, streets that aren’t, rooms where I might be happy, rooms where I shall never be, looking-glasses I look nice in, looking-glasses I don’t, dresses that will be lucky, dresses that won’t, and so on.”
― Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight
This novel is one of those which I believe to be wildly underrated. (Add it to the list with Wieland.)
People probably remember Rhys more for her novel, Wide Sargasso Sea, which was adapted into a movie and tells the story of Bertha, the mad woman in the attic, of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. However, while Wide Sargasso Sea‘s language creates an oppressive and absolutely stifling atmosphere (which was the intended effect, paralleling that of the tropical Caribbean landscape in which it is set), Good Morning, Midnight is more fluid, like an Autumn fog; and I prefer this sort of writing to one where I feel like I’m being choked in a burning fire.
Critics thought Good Morning, Midnight to be well-written but incredibly depressing. And really, if you read it, you must agree with them. That is, after all, the perfect way to describe a book like Good Morning, Midnight:
Sasha is an incredibly depressed woman – but she is also incredibly well-written.
Hence, I enjoyed the book because of these many reasons. The imagery, like many of Rhys’ other novels, is just to die for. And I always prefer a book which has me musing on metaphors in the middle of it (and creating alliterations in sentences like this one).
So, for more amazing books by amazing writers, please check out Rhey of Sunshine‘s blog. I’ve personally never read a Mitch Albom (yes, shoot me) book, so I’m waiting to see which one she recommends. Last but not least, I will catch you all tomorrow where I will share with you my favourite male character!
Till next time, fellow readers,