Jean Rhys’s five novels are available for the first time in a one-volume edition, handsomely produced, with period photographs of French scenes by the expatriate Hungarian artist Brassaï.[1] Since Jean Rhys’s death in 1979, an unfinished autobiography (Smile Please) and a selection of her letters have also appeared, plus David Plante’s memoir in Difficult Women, based upon his brief but intense association with Jean Rhys in the mid-Seventies. She was then over eighty, no matter which of the two recorded birth-dates—1890 or 1894—you accept, ill and exhausted, yet sporadically engaged in composing an account of her life, her ostensible aim being to correct all the misstatements made about her, to “get the facts down,” as one of her editors put it. The trouble was, facts, dates, chronology bored and exasperated her, as David...

 

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