"he thinks it strange that you should write them in words of one syllable. He says it gets monotonous, and don’t you know any long words’"

Sasha recalls her brief employment on the Riviera as a writer for a rich couple (a job Rhys once had). Her (unspoken) response is dripping with bemused ironic humour (‘Long words. Chiaroscuro? Translucent? … I bet he’d like cataclysmal action and centrifugal flux, but the point is how can I get them into a Persian garden?’) While Rhys and her lonely heroine share many traits, they converge very clearly here: Rhys’s minimalist styling is what made her one of the key modernists, but also delayed her success and denied her recognition for decades. She wrote in 1934 that her soon-to-be-published second novel, Voyage in the Dark, was composed ‘almost entirely in words of one syllable.’ By adopting the deceptively simple trick of writing dialogue as it was really spoken, she prematurely marked herself out as an original in an era where verbose and stuffy text was still revered.