Tara's Reviews > A View of the Empire at Sunset
A View of the Empire at Sunset
May 23, 2018
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Caryl Phillips is a Caribbean-born British writer now living in New York, so it's easy to guess why he might relate to Jean Rhys, who grew up in colonial Dominica in the early twentieth century. In this biographical novel, she is known by her real name of Gwendolen Williams. It's a little disappointing that her writing is barely mentioned, but then her life and her art were closely intertwined. The opening chapters, which describe her childhood in Dominica and subsequent banishment, and the closing chapters which describe her return, were for me the most beautiful parts of the book. The middle section, which covers her many lovers and desparate existence in Paris and London, was less revealing, perhaps because Rhys captured it so well in her own stories. However, Phillips evokes the sadness of a woman torn between two cultures with poignancy, and also her innate waywardness which some critics have mistaken for passivity.
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May 23, 2018 – Shelved