Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys (4/5)

The back says: In 1930s Paris, where one cheap hotel room is very like another, a young woman is teaching herself indifference. She has escaped personal tragedy and has come to France to find courage and seek independence. She tells herself to expect nothing, especially not kindness, least of all from men. Tomorrow, she resolves, she will dye her hair blonde.

I say: This novella starts off with the first two stanzas of a poem by one of my favourite emo poets Emily Dickinson:

Good morning, Midnight!
I’m coming home,
Day got tired of me –
How could I of him?

Sunshine was a sweet place,
I liked to stay –
But Morn didn’t want me – now –
So good night, Day!

And just like that I was sure to love this; and also because I loved her prose in Wide Sargasso Sea. However, this novella was something completely different.

As we follow Sasha around Paris, she reminisces about the previous times she spent in Paris, the people she met and the impact they had on her life. She’s had a lot of disappointments, but to simply say that she is depressed would be an understatement, if not a plain oversimplification. At times she is beyond depression, at others she shows emotions similar to happiness, but mostly she’s quite monotonous and appears to simply be doing things because they are expected of her. She goes on the trip after a friend in London insists she goes back to Paris on holiday, and even that gesture feels like she is somehow trying to please her friend;

which later on appears to be flaw in her character.

Or maybe it's naiveté.

There is nothing I love more than broken people, and Rhys has managed to create one of the loneliest characters I’ve ever encountered. And I love it. The way she thinks, the things she says, the way she acts up until the very end. As much and as clearly I think I understand that ending, a part of me is not happy with it all, while another part of me is.

It was heartbreaking.

So why the 4/5? Because there is so much French in here I almost lost my mind. I understand that they are in Paris and occasionally speak French, but there were no translations and it became tedious having to google the phrases – and so after a while I just couldn’t be arsed anymore and simply took it for what it was. Perhaps the next time I read this I’ll have more patience and it’ll offer a new dimension to the story, but for now I’m happy with what I got.

Well, satisfied.

Needless to say, I’m going to order the rest of her works.


  1. I noted that you intend to read it again and that's always a good sign for a book.

    Thanks for the visit today. Glad to "see" you again!

    1. Yeah, some stories are just so good I want to visit them again and again.

  2. While I think I would be frustrated with all of the French as I can only read a little bit of it, this still sounds like a pretty good book. I haven't read anything by Jean Rhys!

    1. It's my second Rhys read and I'm falling in love with her prose and language. I definately recommend her and sense a new obsession forming.

  3. I was not really a fan of her book Quartet, but I've heard that her other stuff is better. It certainly sounds like I would enjoy this one. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Oh, why didn't you like Quartlet? Anything in particular? Or we can discuss that when I get to it. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. I love broken people too. They seem more real. I've been wanting to read her books for a while now. I should get round to that. The non-translated French would irritate me too. Although, might be fun to make up what it's really saying.

    1. Yes, broken people are the best. I only know how to swear in French, which didn't really come in handy here. Sometimes I got the jist of it, but yeah, it was too much.