Good Morning, Midnight, by Jean Rhys

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Good Morning, Midnight is a tale told from the margins of sanity, sobriety and society.

Sasha is, to borrow half a title, ‘down and out in Paris’ , which is where this novel is set.

Good Morning, Midnight is the story of a woman who just doesn’t fit. She doesn’t fit into polite company, or in steady employment. She wanders, and so does her mind. Mostly that involves drinking, or memories of drinking, or of love and youth long gone.

Rhys captures the dizzying sense of middle age, of being lost within oneself and to society. There’s little plot to speak of. Instead, episodes and memories mix in a kind of stream of consciousness.

“But they never last, the golden days. And it can be sad, the sun in the afternoon, can’t it? Yes, it can be sad, the afternoon sun, sad and frightening.”

First published in 1939, this is in many ways a book of its times – certainly in setting, characters and style of telling. The title is from a poem by 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!

Rhys’s novel mirrors the bleak but beguiling tone of the poem.


Good Morning, Midnight, by Jean Rhys.

Quoted edition published by Penguin Books, 1980.

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Picture credit: @projct33

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