A Round Up of Reviews and Comments on Good Morning, Midnight

The range of opinions went from boredom to touching personal reflections. Good Morning, Midnight can be difficult to come to terms with, especially since Sasha Jansen seems, from the beginning, to be on an emotional downward slope.

Eric Anderson at http://lonesomereader.comhas a very good review of GMM.

He makes several cogent points on different facets of Sasha’s  self-identity with telling quotes:

it isn’t my face, this tortured and tormented mask. I can take it off whenever I like and hang it up on a nail. Or shall I place on it a tall hat with a green feather, hang a veil on the lot, and walk about the dark streets so merrily?”

And so we come to Sasha’s ‘wry’ ‘cruel’ sense of humour. Eric says there is a sense of ‘liberation’ in the sly mockery. It provides some relief to know that she has the ability to laugh through the sadness—at herself and her circumstances.

Eric lists Sasha’s bizarre experience in the dress shop with Mr. Blank as being humorous but, while ridiculous on the surface, it’s horrifying to me. I feel Sasha’s approaching nervous breakdown that leaves her worshipping the wonderful dress that she can’t have. Her boring but safe job is lost because of her and her boss’s fear of committing a faux pas. And, she is back on the street.

“It’s not that these things happen or even that one survives them, but what makes life strange is that they are forgotten. Even the one moment that you thought was your eternity fades out and is forgotten and dies. This is what makes life so droll – the way you forget, and every day is a new day, and there’s hope for everybody, hooray…”

Eric also has an interesting interview with Jessica Harrison, Senior Commissioning Editor for Penguin Classics.

https://jacquiwine.wordpress.com/2016/09/17/

Jacqui interviewed author and editor Andy Miller. His appreciation of JeanRhys offers some profound  insight.

“For me it’s Good Morning, Midnight (GMM), that’s my favourite of Jean Rhys’s books. Actually it’s become one of my favourite novels by anyone. It seems to me like the culmination of the sequence, of the character’s unhappy destiny. And you can open it at almost any page and find something astonishing and beautiful.”

“So it’s that mixture of resignation and defiance, the bravery of it and that sense of always being the outsider, those are the things I find incredibly seductive (and that is the word.)”

“ . . .she’s also in exile from society in all sorts of ways: the single woman growing older who has been forced at times to turn to prostitution; the alcoholic, which we know she was. And she’s always dispossessed and has little or no money. So she has this incredible empathy for people who don’t fit, . . .”

“For me it’s Good Morning, Midnight (GMM), that’s my favourite of Jean Rhys’s books. Actually it’s become one of my favourite novels by anyone. It seems to me like the culmination of the sequence, of the character’s unhappy destiny. And you can open it at almost any page and find something astonishing and beautiful.”

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Rhy’s dark sense of humour is perhaps intimidating for a lot of readers—Should I laugh? It can be mixed with tragic experiences so that it’s hard to tell which is intended. There weren’t many comments about it but one saw the importance of humour.

hastanton September 16, 2016 at 8:39 am

“I completely agree about the humour which is often not mentioned at all. What I have found so incredibly clever about this is the way she uses humour to lull the reader into a false sense of security …..a fatal body blow is normally delivered pretty soon thereafter . I think this is particularly so in GMM which I think is an extremely accomplished piece of work ….v near perfect!”

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There were quite a lot of comments from people (myself included) who related to Sasha’s anxiety and fear of people.

Heaven Ali Review of GMM

Good Morning, Midnight hasn’t very much in the way of plot, but it doesn’t really require one. Rhys’s portrayal of desolation is tinged with dark humour, but it is the hopelessness which remains. Sasha is one of the faceless members of society that those whose lives are going well don’t really notice, she exists only on the edges.”

Medium.com Reading GMM and Rhys for  the First  Time

Karen Corday relates her personal connection to GMM:

“I fell in love with the book . . .  I was drawn in by Jean Rhys’s writing; it mesmerized and soothed me in spite of Sasha’s social anxiety, in part because I suffer from social anxiety myself. Good Morning, Midnight was probably the my first experience with a book that spent so much time and detail discussing what it’s like to live with this kind of anxiety.”

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Jean Rhys Reading Week has been a joy to be connected with. Rhys is a favourite writer of mine and I have feared that her work would be forgotten again, as her early novels were forgotten after the war. Obviously, there are still readers who see the rightness of her position among the classics.

 

Author: Margaret

Freelance editor

3 thoughts on “A Round Up of Reviews and Comments on Good Morning, Midnight”

  1. Lovely round-up, Margaret. This is a Rhys I’ve yet to read, but it’s probably the one I’m looking forward to the most as it seems to represent the end-point in the sequence of early novels. I guess Sasha is another (somewhat older) version of Anna and Julia from Voyage and Mr Mackenzie respectively. How did you find the novel reading it again for the reading week? Have your impressions of Sasha (or the novel itself) changed over the years?

    Thanks so much for all your help and support during the Reading Week. It’s very much appreciated!

    1. Thank you Jacqui. I hope you, like Eric, see the dark humour, what seems to be Rhys’s self-mockery, within the sadness and alcoholic haze. I didn’t when I first read it and felt overwhelmed by the sense of hopelessness in the novel. Now, I can be more objective and see both sides. It was even fun at times to
      reread it and see how much it contains of the earlier novels, how Sasha seems a true picture of poor Julia’s fate. All those men, vanished and their money with them. I think Sasha feels somehow more self-assured, a real woman of Paris, who can do grown-up things like buying a painting, or being a sort of older, wiser friend to these lost men. Hélas!
      I hope we can do another reading week as successful as this one.

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