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This continues and no doubt concludes the republication of the works of Jean Rhys -- a collection of her short stories from her earliest (1927) ones to those of the '60's. Anything Jean Rhys wrote is unmistakably hers -- not only in its consonance of theme and style -- both are changeless, timeless. And long before the theme became an issue, she wrote again and again of the disenfranchisement of young women -- being nowhere, going nowhere -- the derelict survivors of brief encounters and meaningless attachments, hanging on if only by the thread of a flayed silk chemise, whether it's a call girl or a midinette or a "Coloured" from her native Antilles ("I come so far I lose myself on the journey"). They appear in bedsitters and rooming houses, in hospitals, in bars -- a spot of whiskey, or perhaps a nice long rest -- two tablets, ten more. Or a glass of wine "To a Lost Cause; to All Lost Causes." Stories like these? Perhaps -- they all speak for the societal deprivation of women who have no real designation (marriage, of course) heightened always by a sense of interior loss and loneliness. How precisely, how universally (from London to Paris to Vienna) it is rendered: "And everything was exactly as I had expected. The knowing waiters, the touch of the ice-cold wine glass, the red plush chairs, the food you don't notice, the gold-framed mirror, the bed in the room beyond that always looks as if its ostentatious whiteness hides dinginess. . . ." L'heure bleue -- touch-true.
Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1974
ISBN: 0140183469
Page count: 220pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1974


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