This book is a biography of the writer Jean Rhys and it proves that, in what concerns artistic talent, God (or nature) gives out this gift in ways that have nothing to do with fairness or human reason.
Rhys was a very talented author. Very talented. She was also a truly contemptible, worthless human being. Lilian Pizzichini tries to put as positive a spin as possible on Rhys’s behavior but even that doesn’t help.
Rhys was a prostitute. Not out of any particular poverty or need. And not because of any interest in sex, for she had none. But simply because she couldn’t be assed to figure out anything else to do. If a female friend tried to help her, giving her a very nice job and a beautiful place to live, she’d immediately try to sleep with her husband. Not out of any sort of uncontrollable passion but because why not? Men would fall in love with her and try to give her a nice life but she’d drive them away with constant moping, whoring, and a complete lack of responsibility.
Rhys had two children but couldn’t be assed to take care of them. As a result, one of the kids died in infancy because of simple neglect. Friends tried to raise the surviving child but Rhys kept dragging the girl away and then abandoning her whenever it served the purposes of some relationship du jour with yet another man.
Pizzichini keeps offering excuses for Rhys’s behavior. She was depressed, she was helpless, nobody taught her how to take care of children, she was traumatized, she was under the weather. This soon gets boring, though. In a biography, you want to see some growth, a journey towards some sort of an enlightenment. But Rhys is like one of those perennially infantile women I wrote about in my first book. She’d commit any atrocity to defend her right never to grow up.
As I said, Rhys was a talented writer. But God, what a contemptible piece of human refuse she also was.