Emily (whatisbiscuits) wrote in bookish,

Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark

Jean Rhys is best known for Wide Sargasso Sea, which acts as a prequel to Jane Eyre. Voyage in the Dark is a bit of a practice run for Sargasso. It's narrated by Anna, a young teenage girl whose step-mother has moved her from her Caribbean family home to cold, grey 1930s? England after her father's death. Struggling to support herself, she finds work as a chorus girl touring small towns and moves from room to dingy room, each sour faced landlady disapproving of her clothes and hours more than the last. A man she meets, Walter, offers some hope and financial assistance, and she becomes attached to him. However, he soon leaves and she falls into a depression which fails to be lifted by plenty of alcohol or the subsequent men who come and go.

I wouldn't recommend Rhys to anyone who likes cheery optimistic books. She tells stories about life as it is, stories of loneliness and disconnection, with a mockingly sharp humour. And about longing too, longing for your home country and people who loved you but are gone now, and wondering how you are going to survive, where the money will come from next.

"You feel peaceful, but when you try to think it's as if you're face-to-face with a high, dark wall. Really all you want is night, and to lie in the dark and pull the sheet over your head and sleep, and before you know where you are it is night - that's one good thing. You pull the sheet over your head and think, 'He got sick of me,' and 'Never, not ever, never.' And then you go to sleep. You sleep very quickly when you're like that and you don't dream either. It's as if you are dead.'


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