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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicately Violent
It is no wonder that after the publication of this novel people assumed Jean Rhys had committed suicide. It is a dark, introverted, soul-searching novel. It's brilliance lies in the compassion with which Sasha is treated. This is a woman who is unquestionably at the end of her tether. Life occurs almost unconsciously to her. She drinks non-stop and thinks of fashion...
Published on 14 Nov. 2002 by Eric Anderson

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars very evocative but disappointing
The book seemed to me to capture very well the mood swings of an alcoholic woman in difficult and impoverished circumstances in the period setting - but from a bohemian point of view. There's the problem of how to read such a book without it depressing you (I had the same problem with Malcolm Lowry's "Under the Volcano"). The bohemian setting redeemed it a little. But my...
Published on 17 Mar. 2013 by Lesley Lodge


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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicately Violent, 14 Nov. 2002
By 
Eric Anderson (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
It is no wonder that after the publication of this novel people assumed Jean Rhys had committed suicide. It is a dark, introverted, soul-searching novel. It's brilliance lies in the compassion with which Sasha is treated. This is a woman who is unquestionably at the end of her tether. Life occurs almost unconsciously to her. She drinks non-stop and thinks of fashion before eating. But these aren't superficial choices. They are the few soft whispers of a woman about to go over the brink. Throughout the novel you are given brief glimpses of her past as a shop assistant and the troubles in her marriage. In themselves the troubles which result from them are not ample enough to drive a normal woman to such desperation. You feel that the reason for her state of mind is more the result of a profound neglect of her individual spirit by men. She is led on to believe in a progression of being, but is abandoned to clutch at the ghosts of her old haunts in Paris. This is a sharp contrast to the ideas that we have about artistic scene of Paris in this time period. It is a more sincerely concentrated personal experience than most accounts. It is interesting to think of the end in contrast to the jubilant yeses of Molly Bloom in Ulysses. Sasha's yes is one of doom and resignation to a world that has flown past her.
Despite its depressing character, this novel is a fascinating look at a tendency to sink into a psychological state often ignored. It is also a subtle portrayal of an identity built on a knife's edge. Luckily, Ms Rhys did survive this novel (however unhappily). It is a miracle that she did considering the violent lack of self worth of Sasha; to have imagined such a person must have been terrifying indeed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turning lonely desperation into a GREAT novel, 8 July 2012
By 
Christopher H (Keilor, Australia) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Surely there is no disputing that the author, Jean Rhys, was one of the finest English novelists of the 1930s, and that this work is a major achievement at the very front rank of literature. Why is this novel so moving? Look closely at the opening paragraph:

" `Quite like old times,' the room says. `Yes? No?' There are two beds, a big one for madame and a smaller one on the opposite side for monsieur. The wash-basin is shut off by a curtain. It is a large room, the smell of cheap hotels faint, almost imperceptible. The street outside is narrow, cobble-stoned, going sharply uphill and ending in a flight of steps. What they call an impasse."

This conveys mood so well. It doesn't just describe place, which is clearly in France, it conveys the sense that Sasha, the narrator, is hitting a dead end. The idea of her being trapped is not just in the squalidness of the cheap foreign hotel room and the ratty alley outside, but some of those phrases: notice the wash basin is `shut off', and the street is an `impasse'. Those words are suggesting that this is what Sasha's current life is: shut off, stuck at an impasse (which is the French word for `dead end' - impasse means literally `no way').

Notice also how the paragraph is set in present tense. So the language is making it NOW, saying `this is where I am at, and what I am trapped in.' And see how the paragraph begins by having the room talk. It is effectively saying, `here you go again, you haven't learned, have you?' That opening sentence is really harsh: the room is moralising, and by using the `Yes? No?' it is shoving things in Sasha's face. It is sort of like the cop at the police cells who tells you you're a deadbeat looser, but in this case it's the room passing judgement on her.

But, of course, the room isn't actually talking. This is a turn of phrase Sasha employs mentally, a device, because really she is judging herself, and finding herself wanting. Here you are girl, Sasha is thinking, back at this again you idiot. And this is just the first paragraph in the novel. The entire bleak book will continue in this skillfully crafted manner, pressing on us the experience of her quiet desperation.

In my view this is a six star novel.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tale of psychological woe, 18 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
At first I thought this novel was deeply confusing with it's free and weaving narrative and intermittent French sentences which left me thinking - What is actually going on?! But with patience this novel turns into a deep tale of the depressive mind of a struggling woman.

Preoccupied with the events of her past, Sasha tries to adapt a new identity and come to terms with life. We follow Rhys' depiction of her struggling with her internal demons whilst attempting to manufacture an external appearance that she believes will get people to stop pitying her and view her as a woman of some standing.

The narrative, though initially confusing, is quite unique using dark humour quips and casting a critical eye over others. It provides a fictional insight into the mind of someone who is obviously suffering from deep issues.

Whilst I have read other Rhy's novels, this is perhaps the most moving one and one wonder's whether it has personal relevance to the author.

It is definitely one to read particularly for those who are interested in psychological states and female narrative.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Before its time, 7 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is a short book but it is far from an easy read. At times I couldn't decide whether the prose was comical or devastatingly sad. There were moments when I'd be reading along and would have to stop after coming across amazing descriptions e.g. as a clock is being wound it is described as making a noise 'somewhere between a giggle and a burp'. I knew instantly the noise Jean Rhys was writing of, we had an old clock that did that too. I haven't yet read the other reviews but I'm wondering whether readers come away with differing views of the main character and where her life has been and is heading. Is it tragedy, partly comical, positive or a mixture of all? My feeling is you could argue all of these points depending on your analytic sensibilities and also you view of women and, obviously, feminism in particular. A great choice for a book group and an important one to mark out for older teenage women you are close to (daughters, nieces etc). It'd be a great way to encourage conversation about the realities of feelings of love and hate and how that changes as women grow-up. Indeed how women can turn everything in on themselves.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The modernist female voice - GOOD MORNING MIDNIGHT, 10 July 2002
This review is from: Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Written at the height of the modernist movement, Rhy's 'Goodmorning Midnight' adopts the 'stream of consciousness' technique seen also in the work of Woolf and Lawrence. This style, which so successfully highlights the personal torments and lonliness of Sasha, Rhy's main protagonist also illustrates the rhythms and atmosphere of modern Paris. The book focuses on the thought process of Sasha, as she comes to terms with her life and faces up to her fears. Rhy's words tenderly and tentively illustrate the frustration, depression and isolation of a single foreign woman in a capital city. The deep concentration on the character of Sasha enables the reader to enter her mind and thus experience both her pain and her moments of joy. A rewarding and revitalising read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gloom, Doom and a Rented Room, 18 Jun. 2011
This review is from: Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
The late 1930s. Sasha Jensen, painfully aware of getting older and losing her looks, is lonely, bitter and 'alcohol-dependent', but saved from disaster by a small inheritance. She leaves her small London bed-sitter for a short holiday in Paris where she was once, briefly, young and happy - but mostly young and miserable. She doesn't worry about the tourist sights: instead she wanders from bar to restaurant to bar - including famous ones like the Closerie de Lilas, the Dome and Les Deux Magots, getting drunk, feeling as though people are staring at her, and being picked up by men. There's a long flashback to when she was younger, and equally wretched but in a different way. It's an almost quintessentially modernist novel - fragmentary, Parisian, street-wandering, alcohol-drinking, with desultory conversations about Life, Art and sex (she meets a painter, a Russian émigré and a gigolo) and saved from total gloom only by the bitter wit. I thought it was good, but was kind of relieved it was so short.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The original and the best, 11 May 2014
This review is from: Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Original and best what? You might well ask. And why five stars, for a novel that doesn't even have a plot, and barely makes a story? Because I loved this book, and therefore can't give it less than top marks. It doesn't need a plot, it's about a sad life, that's all. The writing is superb, beautifully lyrical, poetic almost.

What it feels like, in style, and to some extent in content too, is chick lit, but chick lit of exceptional quality, which is what I mean by `original and best', though I'm not even a fan of chick lit, normally (not being a chick).
But the narrative use of first-person in the present tense, and the subject matter; the single-woman viewpoint and the sex and the drinking, the Parisian cafés and the cheap hotels, all combine to give it that chick-lit feel. But this was written in the 1930s, half a century before the genre was identified, which perhaps explains why it didn't catch on in the author's time (she had more success two decades later, for her Wide Sargasso Sea).

This short novel isn't as explicit as modern chick lit, not surprisingly, and the humour is darker, more subtle, the message deeper. Perhaps I'm wrong to even make the comparison, but that's how it seems to me. Either way, this is a terrific novel of the kind that gets right into the author's head, and we are left in no doubt that there's a strong element of the autobiographical here, because nobody could write so convincingly about the sadness of life if they hadn't experienced these things, the loneliness and the rejections, the drinking, the vulnerability of the single woman who survives on her wits and attracts the wrong kind of man, and who is too intelligent to deceive herself. This is great writing.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "So good night, day!", 9 July 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Bewildered and adrift in Paris, Sasha drinks away her gloom in cafés, trying to forget a man who once loved her...She's a sensitive middle-aged woman struggling with her life and her pessimism in a hostile world where "there is no past, no future, there is only this blackness, changing faintly, slowly, but always the same". Both desesperate and strong, with a great sense of humour and a true psychological depth, the heroine is incredibly modern. Partly autobiographical, the story is told in the first person which sounds more intimate and moving.In the background, the Bohemian Paris of the 1930's with its artists and gigolos... No real plot, but a bitter sweet atmosphere _recalling Fitzgerald_ and the beauty of Jean Rhys' poetic prose. A melancholic and impressionist novel. After Good Morning, Midnight, Jean Rhys disappeared and her novels went out of print, she was even thought to be dead!! Yet, as the result of a successful adaptation of Good Morning, Midnight on the BBC in 1958, she was finally rediscovered; she was at work on a novel entitled "Wide Sargasso Sea"...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'when I have had a couple of drinks I shan't know whether it's yesterday, today or tomorrow', 24 Oct. 2012
By 
sally tarbox (aylesbury bucks uk) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Such a sad novel- the thoughts of Sophia Jansen in her lonely world of cheap and nasty Paris hotels, bars and dodgy men. Interspersed with recollections of her youth which pushed her to her current state; thoughts of suicide; an ultra-sensitivity to perceived slights of those around her.
I could so identify with her feelings at times: insulted in a restaurant
'I finish the coffee, pay the bill and walk out. I would give all that's left of my life to be able to put out my tongue and say "One word to you", as I pass that girl's table. I would give all the rest of my life to be able even to stare coldly at her. As it is, I can't speak to her, I can't even look at her. I just walk out. Never mind...One day, quite suddenly, when you're not expecting it, I'll take a hammer from the folds of my dark cloak and crack your little skull like an egg shell.'
Short but intense novel that totally captures the feeling of hitting rock bottom.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars romanticism and loneliness of a Parisian gutter life, 31 May 2005
By 
P. Millar "dazzle" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Paris is the city to get lost and drunk in. This can be seen by the amount of literature concerned with these two essential elements of life, and Jean Rhys has conjured up an exquisite example of the stream of consciouness 'life in the gutter' tale of a girl lost and alone.
At just the right length the novel concerns Sophia who has returned to Paris after an abscence in an attempt to rebuild her life. Unfortunately her life starts the spiral downwards as she wanders the streets and rests in the bars thinking of her past life and the events which have brought her this far.
In equal parts tragic and compelling this is an essential read for anyone who feels like drifting, drinking and dreaming.
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Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics)
Good Morning, Midnight (Penguin Modern Classics) by Jean Rhys (Paperback - 3 Aug. 2000)
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