‘Oh, and there’s something I want to speak to you about, Mrs Jansen. I’m afraid Samuel didn’t like the last story you wrote.’ Oh God, this awful sinking of the heart — like going down in a lift. I knew this job was too good to be true. ‘Didn’t he? I’m sorry. What didn’t he like about it?’ ‘Well, I’m afraid he doesn’t like the way you write. What he actually said was that, considering the cost of these stories, he thinks it strange that you should write them in words of one syllable. He says it gets monotonous, and don’t you know any long words, and if you do, would you please use them?….Madame Holmberg is most anxious to collaborate with me. And she’s a real writer — she’s just finished the third volume of her Life of Napoleon.’
— Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight
My God, this is a funny way to live. My God, how did this happen?
She walked through the fog into Tottenham Court Road. The houses and the people passing were withdrawn, nebulous. There was only a grey fog shot with yellow lights, and its cold breath on her face, and the ghost of herself coming out of the fog to meet her.
The ghost was thin and eager. It wore a long, very tight check short, a short dark-blue coat, and a bunch of violets bought from the old man in Woburn Square. It drifted up to her and passed her in the fog. And she had the feeling that, like the old man, it looked at her coldly, without recognizing her.
— Jean Rhys, After Leaving Mr Mackenzie
There is no looking glass here and I don’t know what I am like now. I remember watching myself brush my hair and how my eyes looked back at me. The girl I saw was myself yet not quite myself. Long ago when I was a child and very lonely I tried to kiss her. But the glass was between us — hard, cold, and misted over with my breath. Now they have taken everything away. What am I doing in this place and who am I?
— Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea