selena's Reviews > Voyage in the Dark

Voyage in the Dark by Jean Rhys
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Nov 04, 11

bookshelves: 2011, eros, literary-fiction, thebest
Recommended to selena by: Kirsten
Read from October 12 to 16, 2011 — I own a copy

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 I loved about literature when I first read authors like sylvia plath and virginia woolf.

i started the book and the first paragraph or so, about anna loving and hating london after leaving the west indies of her youth won me over. i felt like i was reading the british version of the lover by marguerite duras (and even after finishing, this is the closest thing i can compare the book to).

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.' -page 57

the book felt well ahead of its time in the representation of anna's life, her sexuality. it read like a book written much later, though originally it was published in 1934. the main character isn't one i can relate to. a girl freshly turned eighteen with little family, traveling as an actress and internally lacking her own sense of self, unhappy (here, i thought of nothing but the bell jar).

People say 'young' as though being young were a crime, and yet they are always so scared of getting old. I thought, 'I wish I were old and the whole damned thing were finished; then I shouldn't get this depressed feeling for nothing at all.' -page 91

near the beginning of the book, when anna is walking with her roommate, she meets the man that will be her undoing, essentially. she and her friend are walking along the street and catching the eye of the man and his friend and the timelessness of the scene stuck with me throughout the novel. many movies play on this idea, many novels do the same. and usually, it leads to that happiest of endings, the eternal romance. instead of the struggle.

throughout the novel, you could just feel the struggle coming on.

Keep hope alive and you can do anything, and that's the way the world goes round, that's the way they keep the world rolling. So much hope for each person. And damned cleverly done too. But what happens if you don't hope any more, if your back's broken? What happens then? -page 130

i make the novel sound sentimental, something like a jeanette winterson poetry-prose novel, but it isn't. that's what makes anna such a captivating character, whether or not you relate to her. her thoughts are precise, her emotions are valid and flow naturally with the story. the writing is quiet but strong -- and the ending, surprisingly relevant to issues women face today.

I dreamt that I was on a ship. From the deck you could see small islands - dolls of islands - and the ship was sailing in a doll's sea, transparent as glass.

Somebody said in my ear, 'That's your island that you talk such a lot about.' -page 164
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Reading Progress

10/13/2011 page 50
28.0% "thank you kirsten for the recommendation!" 2 comments
10/16/2011 page 133
76.0% "'Go on, make up your mind. Sometimes when you do things on the spur of the moment it brings you luck. It changes your luck. Haven't you ever noticed?'"

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