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Voyage in the Dark

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,136 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews
Anna, 18 and independent both by circumstance and by character, has exchanged the West Indian island of her childhood for the cold, grey island of England, with its narrow streets and narrow rules. She comes to understand a world where people offer you no help unless there's something they want.
Paperback, 188 pages
Published April 17th 1994 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1934)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 27, 2013 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Here's lookin' at you, kid
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Lauren Highton
They watch you, their faces like masks, set in the eternal grimace of disapproval.

While a first love can be a period of intensely effervescent emotion and passion, the decline and death of the ill-fated romance is often a harrowing and hellish plunge into the darkness of pain and sorrow. Jean Rhys impeccable Voyage in the Dark chronicles such a descent, or tragic voyage, through the rise and fall of Anna Morgan’s love affair with a wealthy Englishman. Anna, coming from the West Indies and work
Feb 16, 2012 Mariel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cassiopeia
Recommended to Mariel by: I'm so sirius
I grew to rely on the out of body life. If you could step outside yourself and put your hands to fit with your other hand on the glass like in one of those movies of a prison visit. The living your life in memories after and not ever during. The tingles and the shivers of the skin that's all ghost like. Hold your breath and wait until you can live it, later. It's so sad, that young Anna is in England in one of those stories that always made me relieved to be alive now and not when I'd have been ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
” At the door she turned round and said, ‘I don’t want no tarts in my house, so now you know.’
I didn’t answer. My heart was beating like hell. I lay down and started thinking about the time when I was ill in Newcastle, and the room I had there, and that story about the walls of a room getting smaller and smaller until they crush you to death. The Iron Shroud, it was called. It wasn’t Poe’s story; it was more frightening than that. “I believe this damned room’s getting smaller and smaller,’ I tho
Aug 31, 2012 Jenn(ifer) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young turks
Recommended to Jenn(ifer) by: the jean genie

This book didn’t pack as much of a wallop for me as After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie and Good Morning, Midnight, but I think that is the result of my reading these books back to back to back. I liken it to seeing reports of murder on the news; after witnessing so much tragedy, you get used to it and it ceases to affect you. It’s like novocaine for the soul.*


Oh Jean, I’m hooked on you and your gin soaked life. I know you’re telling me YOUR story. Not Julia’s, not Anna’s, not Sasha’s, yours. I’ve
Nidhi Singh
Oct 14, 2014 Nidhi Singh rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, women, 2014
It was one of those days when you can see the ghosts of all the other lovely days. You drink a bit and watch the ghosts of all the lovely days that have ever been from behind a glass.

I failed to understand Anna Morgan at first. It is easier to empathize with someone who would look back at the remains of their life and the fading flicker of its loveliness. I understand why they would care to make nothing out of it. But with Anna it is different. She is barely nineteen. And she is living a life
Aug 15, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jean Rhys, rediscovered treasure, gives us depression in all its gruesome splendor in "Voyage in the Dark." The hapless victim of said undiagnosed malady goes a lil bonkers living out her reclusive/bohemian lifestyle in dreary London of olde. This novel seems like a natural companion to Kate Chopin's "The Awakening," Perkins Gillman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," or to anything heartbreaking by Sylvia Plath. Rhys' literary voice is so authentic and compelling. She is a stylist through and through--po ...more
This is a fascinating insight (heavily autobiographical) into the flighty and insecure world of a chorus girl in London, around the time of the first world war (though war is never mentioned).

Many other books set in this period feature chorus girls, but usually in a peripheral way that makes their lives seem exotic and exciting, until they settle down to conventional respectability, quietly disappear, or, less often, meet a tragic end. The storyline here is more nuanced and complex - and still
Paul Bryant
Feb 01, 2015 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels


Autobiographical novels – they should all of them be loaded onto one of those huge barges that take garbagey rubbish out into the ocean and set on fire and the charred remains dumped somewhere ecologically safe, anywhere, so long as I don’t have to look at them anymore. Ugh – how ultimately tiresomely obvious and 100% unimaginative and egomaniac is this author that all they can do is write this thing about themselves having rites of passage and being young
Nov 13, 2007 Chad rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite novels of all time. This book is like a great rock and roll band that's never been discovered by the masses. A gritty, poignant, modernist take on colonialism, loss and sexual deviance. Hail Jean Rhys. The coolest female voice in literature. Sultry, damaged and delicate... just like her last words on her death bed - "More rouge darling. Please apply more rouge." Indeed!
Introduction & Notes

--Voyage in the Dark
Nate D
Mar 26, 2015 Nate D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: discarded chorus-girls of any time/place/gender
Recommended to Nate D by: Mariel
This is England, and I'm in a nice, clean English room with all the dirt swept under the bed. (p.31)

Perfect, civil society is never that. Maybe never that at all. Here, the civilized world that 19-year-old Anna has been dragged into and abandoned to by an itinerant step-mom (ever so proper and disapproving and ultimately careless with the fates of others) is contrasted sharply with the disorderly, supposedly improper lives of faded colonials in the West Indies of Anna's girlhood. "Not a proper g
Jul 27, 2014 knig rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read this concurrently with Anais Nin’s ‘A spy in the house’, and Rhys comes in a resounding Third. Don’t know who is Second place, but can’t give it to Rhys. The woman doesn’t know what she’s doing. Not stylistically, not narratively, not ‘nothing.

When Voyage came out in the 1930s it shocked the ‘Establishment’ (or what was left of it anyway), by giving the first female voice ever to a member of the demi-monde. Previously, the incumbents had only ever spoken to us with the falsetto timbre of ma

Jean Rhys em 1975 por Bill Brandt

“Quando as vozes deles se calaram, o raio de luz entrou de novo por baixo da porta, como a última investida da memória antes de tudo ser apagado.” (P.159)
Mar 24, 2013 Steve rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Early on I was prepared to give this one 5 stars. Rhys can really write, and can hold her own w/ folks like Hemingway (whom she most resembles, but from a female perspective). The sentences. Oh, the sentences. Rhys can totally balance out precision and nuance in a single line. Don't ask me to explain, I just know it when I read it, and I don't run across it too often. The problem I had w/ this short novel (barely over a hundred pages), is its bleakness, its oppressiveness. It's like the mood est ...more
Nov 14, 2015 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Second read of this (first time was more than 15 years ago so really does not count...)

Please see the many wonderful 5 star reviews already on here for reasons why you should read this (and her in general)

Jul 20, 2008 Xio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: femaleauthors
Two quotes:

"That was when it was sad, when you lay awake at night and remembered things. That was when it was sad, when you stood by the bed and undressed, thinking, 'When he kisses me, shivers run up my back. I am hopeless, resigned, utterly happy. Is that me? I am bad, not good any longer, bad. That has no meaning, absolutely none. Just words. But something about the darkness of the streets has a meaning.' "

"It was like letting go and falling back into water and seeing yourself grinning up thr
Apr 15, 2016 Nigeyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book I have read by Jean Rhys - and not the last. Clearly biographical and very well written too. The protagonist - Anna - arrives in England from the West Indies and has to adapt to a new country, a new culture, and a society that is changing fast. Anna is ill equipped to deal with her life as a chorus girl travelling the country, and the characters she encounters. Most of whom want something from her and in the process leave her more damaged. The writing is wonderful and I was engros ...more
Lee Foust
Apr 20, 2014 Lee Foust rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written in the most exquisitely controlled prose imaginable, Voyage in the Dark is a modernist classic by the talented, often ill-fated, and frequently self-destructive Jean Rhys; this one, like so many of her novels, is all too autobiographically situated within that tripartite nexus that seemed to leave her no other choice but to lead a dogged aesthetic resistance to her own life in her brutally honest self-revelatory fictions. The novel invokes the horrors of the sexual double standard and it ...more
Aug 31, 2014 E.B. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
"But in the daytime it was all right. And when you'd had a drink you knew it was the best way to live in the world because anything might happen. I don't know how people live when they know exactly what's going to happen to them each day."

Bleak. Subtle. Poignant. This novel is beautiful because it's true. Jean Rhys pulls us into the darkness with Anna as she navigates--often drunkenly--the rough, lonely waters of adulthood.

I love this girl.
Pete daPixie
Dec 25, 2012 Pete daPixie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I've blundered into this authors life, and stuck my big foot into the middle of someone's breakdown. Now, I discover that Rhys wrote two novels either side of this one; 'Quartet' in 1929, 'After leaving Mr Mackenzie' in 1931, 'Good Morning Midnight' 1939 and 'Wide Sargasso Sea' in 1966. 'Voyage in the dark' was published in 1934.
'Voyage in the dark' is a stark journey. Even the writing is stark. There is very little flamboyance in her style of prose, but that only enhances the feeling th
Jul 23, 2016 JacquiWine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

When I put together my reading list for the Classics Club back in December, one of the first books I selected was Jean Rhys’ Voyage in the Dark (first published in 1934). I absolutely loved Rhys’ second novel After Leaving Mr Mackenzie (1931), which I reviewed last year, so it seemed only right to choose her next novel, Voyage, as a follow-on read. My only concern was would it be as good as Mr Mackenzie? Would it stand up to the comparison? Well, I need no
May 12, 2016 Lauren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I fell,” I said. “I fell for a hell of a long time then.”

I’ve read this beautiful, bruised, dreamy novel four times. I’ve written on it for university. I’ve stared hard at the pages and tried to figure out just what about it is so special to me. Why I like it so much better than the other Rhys novels (this surely isn’t solely because it was my first.) Why something just about the words on the page looks beautiful to me, even when I cut out the meaning. The lyricism of the prose, the dreaminess
Apr 27, 2016 Rebecka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read_in_english
I've listened to Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, and I remember not really liking it, and finding it confusing. I was also 15. I don't remember if I found it oddly written, but that's the case for this one. I'm getting the impression it may be British literature from the first half of the 19th century I find weird, probably because I'm not used to the way the characters speak. Most of the dialogue here is, for me, strange. But, I got used to it, and it became part of the book.

All in all, this w
Jan 05, 2014 Jessica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nineteen-year-olds in certain situations
Recommended to Jessica by: my sister left it in my apartment when she visited me!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 04, 2009 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a tiny little sad book. It's so full of awfulness I don't know if it could be any longer. A young and lonely woman is trapped in England in the 1930's, trying to be a chorus girl. She falls in love with an older man who gives her a lot of money and then leaves her (letting her know this by sending his friend to her, no less). It goes from there. I don't want to give anything away. It's sad, in the saddest way a book can be. A little self-indulgent? Perhaps. Anna doesn't do a lot of anything ...more
Elizabeth Moffat
Oct 20, 2013 Elizabeth Moffat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: byt
Three and a half stars from me..
Before reading this novel, I was not very familiar with the work of Jean Rhys, although I was aware of her novel Wide Sargasso Sea, noted as the prequel to Jane Eyre, which focuses on Mr Rochester’s insane wife. Voyage in the Dark is one of her more popular and widely known works, and apparently also one of her most autobiographical. Our main character is a young woman called Anna Morgan who moves to England from the West Indies where she was brought up after the
Reading Jean Rhys is painful because in her writing, beauty is intrinsically associated with pain. The beauty of her memories, her dreams, her humanity; this is all invariably trapped within the ugliness of human nature, the brutality and anonymity of London life, from losing yourself within men and relying so fully on others that you're a shadow of your own identity, trapped by dreams of the sea and sun and innocence.

Voyage in the Dark is the story of 18 year old Anna's life in London, followin
Nov 04, 2011 Selena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Selena by: Kirsten
Sometimes the earth trembles; sometimes you can feel it breathe. The colours are red, purple, blue, gold, all shades of green. The colours here are black, brown, grey, dim-green, pale blue, the white of people's faces - like woodlice. -page 54

reading jean rhys for me felt incredibly important, something that I had been lacking all of this time. a long-time friend had read voyage in the dark and reviewed it and something about the way she talked about the main character reminded me of everything
Dec 29, 2010 Kirsten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favourites
To me this book is a perfect example of how a story can have a protagonist I simply do not relate to but still be brilliant and enjoyable. Jean Rhys is a superb writer, and in this book shows she was ahead of the curve of modernist writing by a few decades. She works with images rather than ideas and paints rather than describes. The story and the characters are, I think, intentionally unappealing, or untrustworthy, or distant, but that didn't stop me from devouring this book, as it is extremely ...more
Michelle Waters

you did it again, jeeeeeaaannnn

how do you do it, jean

every time
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Jean Rhys, originally Ella Gwendolen Rees Williams, was a Caribbean novelist who wrote in the mid 20th century. Her first four novels were published during the 1920s and 1930s, but it was not until the publication of Wide Sargasso Sea in 1966 that she emerged as a significant literary figure. A "prequel" to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea won a prestigious WH Smith Literary Award i ...more
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“Something came out from my heart into my throat and then into my eyes.” 80 likes
“And I saw that all my life I had known that this was going to happen, and that I'd been afraid for a long time, I'd been afraid for a long time. There's fear, of course, with everybody. But now it had grown, it had grown gigantic; it filled me and it filled the whole world.” 57 likes
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