Jean Rhys: Life and Work
by Carole Angier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I found this book interesting, so much so that I also read the earlier edition of this same volume which was a much thinner book, a kind of sampler of the 770 pg later volume which I finished in one sitting.
I found out about Jean Rhys in Halifax Nova Scotia, in the 1990's, when I went into what was then the Trident Bookstore/Coffee Shop and asked the bookseller if he had a book by a female version of JD Salinger. "No," he said "but you might like this". He passed me After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie. It is my favourite book, the one I always go to when people ask because it deals with the basics in life for an artist, in this case it is a lonely dance hall girl who is losing her looks and struggling to survive financially.
What was interesting about the two versions of the bios was I thought the writer might be lazy and simply use the chapter intros from the slimmer volume and then pad the book with anecdotes and more filler but she completely re-wrote the whole thing chapter by chapter and I found that admirable and also fascinating. However on a technical note I think the earlier slimmer volume tried to imitate Rhys’ spare writing style and for that reason, I would say it is a more true book to her. That's just my opinion. I've always had a thing for old ladies. So now you know.
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