The scent that came from the dress was very faint at first, then it grew stronger. The smell of vetivert and frangipanni, of cinnamon and dust and lime trees when they are flowering. The smell of the sun and the smell of the rain.
This is a book about what makes human identity – and how to take it away from one, piece by piece: parental love and attention, places which one remembers, presence and attention of one’s family and friends, place in the society, sense of emotional and financial security, one’s name, face, any human contact. The dress the protagonist clings to is the only thing, after years and years of such treatment, which still reminds her of who she is and where she came from – and what she still has to do.
It also happens to be a book which ticks all the boxes as to what I love in literature from the technical point of view: literary and historical allusions, very tight structure with numerous self-references and echoes, fragile/strong female characters, author’s ability to speak in tongues, prose at once sparse and controlled, modernist preoccupation with the fragmentation of self, utterly confounding variety of versions and viewpoints of ‘the truth’, open endings.
I highly recommend this novel, and – if you can get hold of it – the essay on it in Carole Angier’s [b:Jean Rhys: Life and Work|18386482|Jean Rhys Life and Work|Carole Angier|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1378707246s/18386482.jpg|2109648].