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‘An acute literary intelligence … the reader comes to trust instinctively Angier’s assessments.’ New York Times

Jean Rhys (1890-1979) had a long life of great difficulty. So inept was she in its management that her authority as the writer of five beautifully shaped and controlled novels appears mysterious: how could someone so bad at living be so good at writing about it?

Carole Angier answers this question. Jean Rhys never denied that she used her own
experience in her writings, but no one hitherto has understood so well the nature of, and
reasons for, this use.

On her way to understanding, Carole Angier discovered more about the life than
seemed possible. Jean Rhys’s childhood, her momentous first love affair, her three marriages, the disasters which befell her husbands, her drinking and its consequences: all are shown with unsparing clarity. Equally clearly, and more importantly, we see the dynamics of her personality as it underwent, and sometimes provoked, these experiences. Sometimes what is revealed is shocking; but Carole Angier’s sympathy and compassion dispel dismay, and her brilliant demonstrations of how art was made of events and emotions restores admiration on foundations which are stronger than ever.

Jean Rhys did not want anyone to write about her, but this first full biography put beyond question her standing as a great writer of our time, written with an intensity and clarity which mirrors her own. It is a work of exceptional intimacy, sensitivity and power.

‘Remarkable, the definitive biography. It is deeply researched, subtle, sympathetic.’
Claire Tomalin Independent on Sunday

‘Mesmerising.’ Washington Post

Carole Angier

Carole Angier was born in London, but spent her early years in Canada. She returned to England when she was twenty-one. She has taught English literature and philosophy, including eight years work for the Open University. Her biography of Jean Rhys (1990) was published to critical acclaim and she has subsequently published an equally acclaimed biography of Primo Levi (2002).

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Carole Angier