Books

Till September Petronella

Jean Rhys

'I knew he was imagining a really lovely girl - all curves, curls, heart and hidden claws'

In stories that span the course of a lifetime - from childhood in the Caribbean to adolescent modelling in Paris; and from lonely adulthood to old age and beyond - here are women adrift, at sea, down but not quite out.

Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space.

The Collected Short Stories

Jean Rhys

New to Penguin Classics, the remarkable, devastating collected stories by the author of Wide Sargasso Sea.

Some of Jean Rhys's most powerful writing is to be found in this rich, dark collection of her collected stories. Her fictional world is haunted by her own, painful memories: of cheap hotels and drab Parisian cafés; of devastating love affairs; of her childhood in Dominica; of drifting through European cities, always on the periphery and always perilously close to the abyss. Rendered in extraordinarily vivid, honest prose, these stories show Rhys at the height of her literary powers and offer a fascinating counterpoint to her most famous novel, Wide Sargasso Sea. This volume includes all the stories from her three collections,The Left Bank (1927), Tigers Are Better-Looking (1968) and Sleep It Off, Lady (1976).

Smile Please

Jean Rhys

A brilliant companion piece to Wide Sargasso Sea, this is Jean Rhys's beautifully written, bitter-sweet autobiography, covering her chequered early years in Dominica, England and Paris.

Jean Rhys wrote this autobiography in her old age, now the celebrated author of Wide Sargasso Sea but still haunted by memories of her troubled past: her precarious jobs on chorus lines and relationships with unsuitable men, her enduring sense of isolation and her decision at last to become a writer. From the early days on Dominica to the bleak time in England, living in bedsits on gin and little else, to Paris with her first husband, this is a lasting memorial to a unique artist.

Includes an introduction by Diana Athill.

Good Morning, Midnight

Jean Rhys

Saved, rescued, fished-up, half-drowned, out of the deep, dark river, dry clothes, hair shampooed and set...

Set in a 1930s Paris of shabby hotel rooms, seedy bars and drunken encounters, Jean Rhys's semi-autobiographical portrayal of a young woman's sexual encounters is a searingly honest exploration of loneliness and yearning.

Ten new titles in the colourful, small-format, portable new Pocket Penguins series

Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys's spell-binding novel Wide Sargasso Sea, inspired by Jane Eyre and winner the Royal Society of Literature Award is beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range.

'There is no looking glass here and I don't know what I am like now... Now they have taken everything away. What am I doing in this place and who am I?'

If Antoinette Cosway, a spirited Creole heiress, could have foreseen the terrible future that awaited her, she would not have married the young Englishman. Initially drawn to her beauty and sensuality, he becomes increasingly frustrated by his inability to reach into her soul. He forces Antoinette to conform to his rigid Victorian ideals, unaware that in taking away her identity he is destroying a part of himself as well as pushing her towards madness.

Set against the lush backdrop of 1830s Jamaica, Jean Rhys's powerful, haunting masterpiece was inspired by her fascination with the first Mrs Rochester, the mad wife in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre.

'Compelling, painful and exquisite' Guardian

'Brilliant. A tale of dislocation and dispossession, which Rhys writes with a kind of romantic cynicism, desperate and pungent' The Times

'Rhys turns a menacing cipher into a grieving, plausible young woman, and one whose story says whole worlds about global mixtures, about the misunderstandings between the colonized, the colonizers and the people who can't easily say which they are' Time

Jean Rhys was born in Dominica in 1890, the daughter of a Welsh doctor and a white Creole mother, and came to England when she was sixteen. Her first book, a collection of stories called The Left Bank, was published in 1927. This was followed by Quartet (originally Postures, 1928), After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1930), Voyage in the Dark (1934) and Good Morning, Midnight (1939). None of these books was particularly successful and with the outbreak of war they went out of print. Jean Rhys dropped from sight until nearly twenty years later she was discovered living reclusively in Cornwall. During those years she had accumulated the stories collected in Tigers are Better-Looking. In 1966 she made a sensational reappearance with Wide Sargasso Sea, which won the Royal Society of Literature Award and the W. H. Smith Award. Her final collection of stories, Sleep It Off Lady, appeared in 1976 and Smile Please, her unfinished autobiography, was published posthumously in 1979. Jean Rhys died in 1979.

Quartet

Jean Rhys

Set in a superficially romantic, between-wars Paris, QUARTET is a poignant tale of a lonely woman. Set against a background of winter-wet streets, Pernod in smoky cafes and cheap hotel rooms with mauve- flowered wallpaper, Marya tries to make something substantial of her life in order to withstand the unreality of her surroundings. Alone, her Polish husband in prison, she is taken up by an English couple who slowly overwhelm her with their passions. Jean Rhys's first novel is both poignant anddisturbingly intimate in its vivid depiction of a woman on her own.

Good Morning, Midnight

Jean Rhys

An unforgettable portrait of a woman bravely confronting loneliness and despair in her quest for self-determination, Jean Rhys's Good Morning Midnight includes an introduction by A.L. Kennedy in Penguin Modern Classics.

In 1930s Paris, where one cheap hotel room is very like another, a young woman is teaching herself indifference. She has escaped personal tragedy and has come to France to find courage and seek independence. She tells herself to expect nothing, especially not kindness, least of all from men. Tomorrow, she resolves, she will dye her hair blonde. Jean Rhys was a talent before her time with an impressive ability to express the anguish of young, single women. In Good Morning, Midnight Rhys created the powerfully modern portrait of Sophia Jansen, whose emancipation is far more painful and complicated than she could expect, but whose confession is flecked with triumph and elation. One of the most honest and distinctive British novelists of the twentieth century, Jean Rhys wrote about women with perception and sensitivity in an innovative and often controversial way.

Jean Rhys (1894-1979) was born in Dominica. Coming to England aged 16, she drifted into various jobs before moving to Paris, where she began writing and was 'discovered' by Ford Madox Ford. Her novels, often portraying women as underdogs out to exploit their sexualities, were ahead of their time and only modestly successful. From 1939 (when Good Morning, Midnight was written) onwards she lived reclusively, and was largely forgotten when she made a sensational comeback with her account of Jane Eyre's Bertha Rochester, Wide Sargasso Sea, in 1966.

If you enjoyed Good Morning Midnight, you might like Rhys's Voyage in the Dark, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Her eloquence in the language of human sexual transactions is chilling, cynical, and surprisingly moving'
A.L. Kennedy

After Leaving Mr Mackenzie

Jean Rhys (and others)

After Leaving Mr Mackenzie is a brilliant, yet brutal, portrait of a woman struggling to retrieve both life and love. For six months, Julia has lived alone in a drab Parisian hotel on an allowance from her ex-lover, Mr. Mackenzie. When his cheques stop, Julia decides to leave France and return to London. The tale of her ten day visit contains some of Jean Rhys's most sensitive, poignant writing. Past her prime, exhausted by broken love affairs and addled by drink, Julia is tragically unable to find what she really wants - love.

Voyage in the Dark

Carole Angier (and others)

'It was as if a curtain had fallen, hiding everything I had ever known,' says Anna Morgan, eighteen years old and catapulted to England from the West Indies after the death of her beloved father. Working as a chorus girl, Anna drifts into the demi-monde of Edwardian London. But there, dismayed by the unfamiliar cold and greyness, she is absolutely alone and unconsciously floating from innocence to harsh experience. Her childish dreams have been replaced by the harsher reality of living in a man's world, where all charity has its price Voyage in the Dark was first published in 1934, but it could have been written today. It is the story of an unhappy love affair, a portrait of a hypocritical society, and an exploration of exile and breakdown; all written in Jean Rhys's hauntingly simple and beautiful style.

Jean Rhys (1894-1979) was born in Dominica. Coming to England aged 16, she drifted into various jobs before moving to Paris, where she began writing and was 'discovered' by Ford Madox Ford. Her novels, often portraying women as underdogs out to exploit their sexualities, were ahead of their time and only modestly successful. From 1939 (when Good Morning, Midnight was written) onwards she lived reclusively, and was largely forgotten when she made a sensational comeback with her account of Jane Eyre's Bertha Rochester, Wide Sargasso Sea, in 1966.

If you enjoyed Voyage in the Dark, you might like James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, also available in Penguin Classics.

'A wonderful bitter-sweet book, written with disarming simplicity'
Esther Freud, Express

'Her eloquence in the language of human sexual transactions is chilling, cynical, and surprisingly moving'
A.L. Kennedy

Wide Sargasso Sea

Jean Rhys (and others)

Inspired by Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre', WIDE SARGASSO SEA is set in 1830's Jamaica. Born into an oppressive, colonialist society, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality.After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is inexorably driven towards madness. This classic study of betrayal is Jean Rhys' brief, beautiful masterpiece.

Biography

Jean Rhys was born in Dominica in 1894. After arriving in England aged sixteen, she became a chorus girl and drifted between different jobs before moving to Paris, where she started to write in the late 1920s. She published a story collection and four novels, after which she disappeared from view and lived reclusively for many years. In 1966 she made a sensational comeback with her masterpiece, Wide Sargasso Sea, written in difficult circumstances over a long period. Rhys died in 1979.