Books | Good Morning Midnight by Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys Good morning midnight
'Everything tender and melancholy - as life is sometimes, just for one moment.'

     Good Morning, Midnight follows the escapades of Sasha Jansen, a middle-aged English woman returning to Paris after a prolonged absence. She brings with her the ghosts of an unhappy marriage, financial turmoil and the grief of losing a child. Struggling to take care of herself, she drifts through Paris drinking heavily, taking sleeping pills and trying to come to terms with a city that has caused her so much pain yet to which she still feels unequivocally connected.

‘Quite like old times,’ the room says. ‘Yes? No?’

I have been here five days. I have decided on a place to eat in at midday, a place to eat in at night, a place to have my drink in after dinner. I have arranged my little life.

     I read Rhys' 1939 modernist novel in the last year of my English Literature degree, and deemed the whole 4 years of my university career justifiable for the fact that it had brought this book into my life. The hallucinatory quality of the prose transported me into pre-war Paris, stumbling through the seedy bars and squalid streets as if I were Sasha myself.

     What struck me most was the piercingly honest portrayal of a woman's battle with her demons and the tenderness with which Rhys depicts a fragile life plagued by depression. The plotless narrative, written as a stream of consciousness, shifts and darts between times and places, sobriety and inebriation, the public sphere of Parisian society and the private four walls of a hotel room. Rhys is such a skilled writer that the lack of plot is never confusing nor frustrating, and she expertly paints a rich and fertile emotional landscape.

      The novel is also a portrait of addiction, despair and alienation. Sasha's position is worsened by her gender; she suffers from the stigma of insufficient money, socially unacceptable drinking habits and poorly judged relationships but all the more so for being a woman for which all of these are applicable. However much she tries, she can't grab hold of the loose threads enough to be what society expects of her.

      Rhys invites us to observe but not judge; Sasha's drink-induced haze is punctured by moments of lucid self-reflection:

my beautiful life in front of me, opening out like a fan in my hand

We are encouraged to have faith in our narrator, despite her unreliability. Just as we think Sasha is leading us into the darkness, she pulls us back into the light one more time, still one more time.  A more masterful portrayal of depression I am yet to read.

 

 

 

 

Writing | Thought, often

     Some mornings I imagine the moment I am run over on the way to work so vividly it’s like I’ve wished it. The outcome is never life threatening but just enough to put me out of action; a broken leg, a fractured arm or a cracked rib maybe. A bleeding wound would be sufficiently dramatic of course, just as long as it didn’t scar. A trip to A&E would be essential, otherwise - what's the point?

     I realise these are bad thoughts and the ones that shouldn't infiltrate. These are lands that no healthy mind travels to whilst it weaves new memories into experience. But my mind is one that flirts with the most intolerable of thoughts. My imagination is not quite satisfied with the realms of rational thought, it always has to take that extra leap. 

Music | The Drugs Don't Work

This playlist is full of melancholy melodies because I'm the sort of person who has to give space to her dark side. Pay close attention to the last song and.....well,....interpret it as you will.

  • The Drugs Don't Work - The Verve
  • Breathe Me - Sia
  • Melancholy Mood - Bob Dylan
  • Valentine - Fiona Apple
  • People Ain't No Good - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  • Blackberry Stone - Laura Marling
  • Samson - Regina Spektor
  • Back to Black - Amy WInehouse
  • Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Bob Dylan
  • Europe - Max Richter

 

Enjoy this playlist? Follow me on Spotify to see my weekly updates with fantastic new tunes!

Music | Losing my religion

 

 

  • Faith - George Michael
  • Elephant - Tame Impala
  • Losing You - Solange
  • Afterlife - Arcade Fire
  • Bang Bang Bang - Mark Ronson
  • Loud(y) - Lewis del Mar
  • I Don't Love Anyone - Belle & Sebastian
  • Losing My Religion - R.E.M
  • Something - The Beatles
  • Valentine - Fiona Apple

See the full playlist here. Enjoy this? Follow me on Spotify to see weekly updates!

 

Music | Dancing on My Own

Tunes to get you foot-stomping, jumping and head banging round the living room in your knick-knacks. This week the ladies are featuring on my vocals cos......Who Run the World? Exactly.

  • Heavy Cross - Gossip
  • Bulletproof - La Roux
  • Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) - Eurythmics
  • California - Grimes
  • Dancing On My Own - Robyn
  • Untrust Us - Crystal Castles
  • Caesar - I Blame Coco
  • Heads will Roll - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  • Daniel - Bat for Lashes
  • National Anthem - Lana Del Rey

Got Spotify? Click on the link to follow this playlist! Or follow me on Spotify to get automatic updates each week!

lanadelrey

Photographer Spotlight| Louise Dahl Wolfe

After last week's Facebook rant, I decided to make my female photographer showcase a full-on blog post. These are the inspiring and talented women, past and present, who have contributed immensely to the photographic industry with their creative vision.

First up, the pioneering Louise Dahl Wolfe (1895-1989), who inspired photographers such as Irving Penn and Richard Avedon.

Dahl was born in San Francisco to Norwegian immigrant parents. She studied design, colour and painting at the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Institute of Art) where she also took courses in life drawing, anatomy, figure composition and other subjects over the next six years.

From 1933 to 1960, Dahl-Wolfe ran a photographic studio in New York that was home to the freelance advertising and fashion work she made for stores including Bonwit Teller and Saks Fifth Avenue. From 1936 to 1958 Dahl-Wolfe was a staff fashion photographer at Harper’s Bazaar. She produced portrait and fashion photographs totaling 86 covers, 600 color pages and countless black-and-white shots. From 1958 until her retirement in 1960, Dahl-Wolfe worked as a freelance photographer for VogueSports Illustrated, and other periodicals.

Ironically, and despite her enormous success as a photographer, she preferred painting to photography!

I believe that the camera is a medium of light, that one actually paints with light. In using the spotlights with reflecting lights, I could control the quality of the forms revealed to build a composition. Photography, to my mind, is not a fine art. It is splendid for recording a period of time, but it has definite limitations, and the photographer certainly hasn't the freedom of the painter. One can work with taste and emotion and create an exciting arrangement of significant form, a meaningful photograph, but a painter has the advantage of putting something in the picture that isn't there or taking something out that is there. I think this makes painting a more creative medium. — Louise Dahl-Wolf, 1984
 

editorial | tutto wines

I was thrilled to take portraits of the Tutto Wines boys for a recent feature on their fantastic work. Suppliers for Chiltern Firehouse, Nopi and Lyle's amongst many others, this passionate wine importing duo supply some of London's hottest restaurants with delicious and new wines! http://tuttowines.com/

Editorial | Polpetto feature for The Journal

Commission for Total Management's glossy 'The Journal'. Polpetto's head mixologist Josie McLean conjures up some summer seasonal cocktails using elderflower and rose.