Mark Bostridge reviews, The Blue Hour: A Portrait of Jean Rhys by Lilian Pizzichini.

Lilian Pizzichini’s The Blue Hour is a compact examination of what it felt like to be Jean Rhys, the writer who ended her days staring at the world through the bottom of an empty whisky bottle. More than 20 years ago, Carole Angier’s biography was a sprawling epic whose accumulation of jagged detail came to reflect the messy, bewildering nature of Rhys’s pain-stricken existence. Pizzichini is heavily indebted to Angier’s research, but her book has more in common with the spare, broken rhythms of one of Rhys’s novels or short stories, though she attempts to do what her subject would never have countenanced: to explain the psychological turmoil that made Rhys a great modernist writer as well as the most impossible of human beings.

Read the complete review at The Observer.