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The Blue Hour: A Life of Jean Rhys

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The Blue Hour: A Life of Jean Rhys Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"'I think we do ourselves and literature a disservice which [when?] we try to untangle what we call the facts from the fiction. As if there were two parallel lines which never met.' — Jeanette Winterson

The biography of Jean Rhys which has just been published by W.W. Norton is not a biography. It is a biopic in narrative form. This is not entirely the fault of its writer, Lillian Pizzichini; writing a biography of Jean Rhys is a tricky proposition. Lauren Elkin, The Quarterly Conversation (Read the entire Quarterly Conversation review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Jean Rhys (1890-1979) is best known for her 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea. A prequel to Jane Eyre, Rhys's revolutionary work reimagined the story of Bertha Rochester the misunderstood 'madwoman in the attic' who was driven to insanity by cruelties beyond her control. The Blue Hourperforms a similar exhumation of Rhys's life, which was haunted by demons from within and without. Its examination of Rhys's pain and loss charts her desperate journey from the jungles of Dominica to a British boarding school, and then into an adult life scarred by three failed marriages, the deaths of her two children, and her long battle with alcoholism.

A mesmerizing evocation of a fragile and brilliant mind, The Blue Hourexplores the crucial element that ultimately spared Rhys from the fate of her most famous protagonist: a genius that rescued her, again and again, from the abyss.

Review:

"The genius of novelist Jean Rhys (1890 — 1979) is painfully depicted in this compelling short biography, exploring what it was like to live such a tortured life. Rhys was overlooked for decades until Wide Sargasso Sea, her postmodern shift of emphasis on Jane Eyre, became an instant sensation in 1966. Three times married to ne'er-do-wells and enduring an unhappy dollop of motherhood, Rhys was better known as the lover of Ford Maddox Ford. According to British author Pizzichini (Dead Man's Wages), both Ford's 'predatory paternalism' and his novelist's flattery attracted and repelled her, as did the criminal element of society. Pizzichini searches Rhys's background for clues to her self-destructive judgments. Born in Dominica as Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams, she was later a free-spirited young outsider in starchy, empirical England and elsewhere in Europe. Stuck with men who couldn't make ends meet, Rhys had a brief career in prostitution and also worked as a chorus girl. Evocative and empathetic, Pizzichini still offers no fully satisfactory explanation for the explosiveness of Rhys's interior life: 'She found life difficult because she found it hard to be herself.' 20 photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

A groundbreaking biography of a psychologically traumatized novelist who forever changed the way we look at women in fiction.

Synopsis:

This groundbreaking biography of Jean Rhys — best known for her 1966 "Wide Sargasso Sea" — examines the life of the psychologically traumatized novelist who forever changed the way readers interpret women in fiction.

Synopsis:

A groundbreaking biography of a psychologically traumatized novelist who forever changed the way we look at women in fiction.

Synopsis:

Jean Rhys (1890-1979) is best known for her 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea. A prequel to Jane Eyre, Rhys's revolutionary work reimagined the story of Bertha Rochester--the misunderstood "madwoman in the attic" who was driven to insanity by cruelties beyond her control. The Blue Hour performs a similar exhumation of Rhys's life, which was haunted by demons from within and without. Its examination of Rhys's pain and loss charts her desperate journey from the jungles of Dominica to a British boarding school, and then into an adult life scarred by three failed marriages, the deaths of her two children, and her long battle with alcoholism.

A mesmerizing evocation of a fragile and brilliant mind, The Blue Hour explores the crucial element that ultimately spared Rhys from the fate of her most famous protagonist: a genius that rescued her, again and again, from the abyss.

About the Author

British biographer Lilian Pizzichini has worked for the Literary Review and the Times Literary Supplement.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780393058031
Author:
Pizzichini, Lilian
Publisher:
W. W. Norton & Company
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Novelists, English
Subject:
20th century
Subject:
Novelists, English -- 20th century.
Subject:
Rhys, Jean
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Copyright:
Publication Date:
April 2009
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
20 photos
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.9 x 1.1 in 0.93 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Biography » Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

The Blue Hour: A Life of Jean Rhys New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$29.95 In Stock
Product details 336 pages W. W. Norton & Company - English 9780393058031 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The genius of novelist Jean Rhys (1890 — 1979) is painfully depicted in this compelling short biography, exploring what it was like to live such a tortured life. Rhys was overlooked for decades until Wide Sargasso Sea, her postmodern shift of emphasis on Jane Eyre, became an instant sensation in 1966. Three times married to ne'er-do-wells and enduring an unhappy dollop of motherhood, Rhys was better known as the lover of Ford Maddox Ford. According to British author Pizzichini (Dead Man's Wages), both Ford's 'predatory paternalism' and his novelist's flattery attracted and repelled her, as did the criminal element of society. Pizzichini searches Rhys's background for clues to her self-destructive judgments. Born in Dominica as Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams, she was later a free-spirited young outsider in starchy, empirical England and elsewhere in Europe. Stuck with men who couldn't make ends meet, Rhys had a brief career in prostitution and also worked as a chorus girl. Evocative and empathetic, Pizzichini still offers no fully satisfactory explanation for the explosiveness of Rhys's interior life: 'She found life difficult because she found it hard to be herself.' 20 photos." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "'I think we do ourselves and literature a disservice which [when?] we try to untangle what we call the facts from the fiction. As if there were two parallel lines which never met.' — Jeanette Winterson

The biography of Jean Rhys which has just been published by W.W. Norton is not a biography. It is a biopic in narrative form. This is not entirely the fault of its writer, Lillian Pizzichini; writing a biography of Jean Rhys is a tricky proposition. (Read the entire Quarterly Conversation review)
"Synopsis" by , A groundbreaking biography of a psychologically traumatized novelist who forever changed the way we look at women in fiction.
"Synopsis" by , This groundbreaking biography of Jean Rhys — best known for her 1966 "Wide Sargasso Sea" — examines the life of the psychologically traumatized novelist who forever changed the way readers interpret women in fiction.
"Synopsis" by , A groundbreaking biography of a psychologically traumatized novelist who forever changed the way we look at women in fiction.
"Synopsis" by , Jean Rhys (1890-1979) is best known for her 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea. A prequel to Jane Eyre, Rhys's revolutionary work reimagined the story of Bertha Rochester--the misunderstood "madwoman in the attic" who was driven to insanity by cruelties beyond her control. The Blue Hour performs a similar exhumation of Rhys's life, which was haunted by demons from within and without. Its examination of Rhys's pain and loss charts her desperate journey from the jungles of Dominica to a British boarding school, and then into an adult life scarred by three failed marriages, the deaths of her two children, and her long battle with alcoholism.

A mesmerizing evocation of a fragile and brilliant mind, The Blue Hour explores the crucial element that ultimately spared Rhys from the fate of her most famous protagonist: a genius that rescued her, again and again, from the abyss.

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