So far I've read only one of Rhys interwar period novels - [b:Quartet|1270148|Quartet|Jean Rhys|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/book/50x75-a91bf249278a81aabab721ef782c4a74.png|2070952] - and have already had an idea what the world of cheap hotels, or even cheap hotels which pose as reputable ones, means for her heroines. It is a floating world, not entirely unlike the floating world of Japan (although not in the sense of the economical boom); rather, it is the world of drinking and eroticism, demimondaines, mannequins, and chorus girls, kept women and cruel men, husbands who deal in shady businesses and wives who'd rather not ask questions.
It seems that Rhys' protagonists create their identities through props - newly dyed hair (some interesting remarks on the implications of blond cendré - ash blonde - Sasha's colour of choice in GMM to be found here: http://www.bookdrum.com/books/good-morning-midnight/9780141183930/bookmarks-26-50.html?bookId=38434 ), new hats and dresses, new names (changed in both books - in [b:Wide Sargasso Sea|889036|Wide Sargasso Sea|Jean Rhys|https://s.gr-assets.com/assets/nophoto/book/50x75-a91bf249278a81aabab721ef782c4a74.png|142647] by the heroine's husband in an attempt to control her, in Good Morning, Midnight
by the protagonist herself, in an attempt to change her fate:
It was then that I started calling myself Sasha. I thought it might change my luck if I changed my name. Did it bring me any luck, I wonder, calling myself Sasha?
(And don't forget Rhys herself changed both her first and second name).
And the symbolic dress, so significant for the protagonist (somehow it made me think of other personal Holy Grail, a reservation in Dorsia;) :
It is a black dress with wide sleeves embroidered in vivid colours - red, green, blue, purple. It is my dress. If I had been wearing it I should never have stammered or been stupid.(...)If I could get it everything would be different.
As usual, I love Rhys' controlled writing style and her means of conveyance (emphasis mine):
Quite like old times,' the room says.
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.
I have been here five days. I have decided on a place to eat in at midday, a place to eat in at night, a place to have my drink in after dinner. I have arranged my little life.
I had less appreciation for the plot. Was in no mood for despair, perhaps. Didn't like the heroine - as Rhys herself, probably someone most people would try to avoid. Still, the chapter on Good Morning, Midnight
in [b:Jean Rhys: Life and Work|18386482|Jean Rhys Life and Work|Carole Angier|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1378707246s/18386482.jpg|2109648] made me notice things I failed to notice/ appreciate in GMM (such as themes of vision, hatred as a quintessential part of self in a Rhys' heroine, humour, and the complete ineffectiveness of Sasha's actions (or even intentions) - highly recommended additional reading.
(P.S. The title reminds me of "Good morning, madame
" - a phrase that Sasha, as a shopping assistant, would repeat hundreds of times.)
Review based on excerpts and thoughts recorded for 2015: The Year of Reading Women