A Reader's Guide to Unfamiliar Literature
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A Good Place To Start

Quartet 1
After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie 1


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Categorization is odious. There is tremendous overlap among genres. These pigeonholes are offered only as a convenience.

Jean Rhys (1894 - 1979)

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Please consider recommending where to begin reading this author, or where not to. A few words about your experiences reading this author and why you make the recommendations you do will be helpful to other users. If you are the author or have studied this author extensively, please say so.

joecowley April 20th, 2007 03:47 AM PST

She is a wonderful writer and a great stylist, though she was largely unrecognized during her lifetime. Unfortunately, she was alcoholic who never recovered from her disease. Otherwise her body of work might have been larger. Wide Sargasso Sea is considered her masterpiece, and the most "normal" of her books. But I prefer the other, shorter books, all beautifully written, though all seem to have the same theme.
All of Rhys' novels are available in paperback, which is how I originally read them. But I liked her so much I bought the complete novels in hardcover, published by W.W. Norton & Co., which was first published in 1985. Her first novel, published in 1927, and which I have never read, has evidently never been reprinted.
Try her, you'll like her - if you like style, which I very much do. Joseph Cowley


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Jean Rhys was born in 1894 in the Windward Islands, the daughter of a Welsh doctor father and a Creole mother, and spent her childhood there. At the age of 16, she came to England, where she lived during the First World War. She then married a Dutch poet and lived on the Continent for ten years. Her first book (The Left Bank, 1927) was published with a preface by her patron Ford Madox Ford, who recognized the "passion for stating the case of the underdog" and the "singular instinct for form" that were to place her among the finest writers of our time. She died in Devon in 1979.

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