Archives for Jean Rhys

Book review: Quartet

Quartet is the first, slim, novel by Wide Sargasso Sea author Jean Rhys. Published in 1928 it is its very different from its famous older sister which was not published until 1968. Semi-autobiographical, Quartet tells the story of Marya, marooned without money in Paris after her chancer husband Stephan is jailed for theft. It is a novel about loneliness and vulnerability and where that can lead. Marya is taken under the wing of the English couple, the Heidlers. They are spoken of as a unit, he is referred to as HJ, his wife is Lois. It is Lois who persuades Marya to move into the spare bedroom at their studio. HJ, she tells Marya, likes to ‘help people.’ But as days pass, Marya is drawn into their emotional and sexual influence. Not an accurate judge of character, Marya is let down but seems incapable of getting away. Visits to her husband in prison are fleeting and unsatisfactory, husband and wife face their own dilemmas and deal with them alone. This is a melancholy story told beautifully. Marya is intelligent but weak, recognising she is trapped but unable, or unwilling, to extricate herself. ‘You see, I’m afraid the trouble with me
Read More

Categories: Book Love.