Page 9. " it’s a sad song. Gloomy Sunday. "

This infamously lugubrious ballad was composed in 1933 by Hungarian Resző Seress to the words of a poem by László Jávor. Billie Holiday’s 1941 cover was banned by the BBC for fear of lowering morale. In the song, the singer laments the loss of their beloved and edges closer to suicide. Seress himself committed suicide in 1968 by leaping from his apartment window.

Page 15. " Paris is looking very nice tonight, my beautiful, my darling, and oh what a bitch you can be! But you didn’t kill me after all, did you? "

Despite her difficult life, Rhys had her happier moments in Paris of the 1920s. However, in Sasha’s paranoid mind, everyone and every place is capable of duality and betrayal, and she anthropomorphises the city as female.

Page 15. " Just about here we waited a couple of hours to see Anatole France’s funeral pass, because, Enno said, we mustn’t let such a great literary figure disappear without paying him the tribute of a last salute "

Parisian-born French man of Letters and Nobel Prize winner, Anatole France began his career as a journalist and famously supported Émile Zola in the Dreyfus affair. Author of 22 novels as well as memoirs, plays, criticism and poetry, his final novel, The Revolt of the Angels was published in 1914 and is considered the zenith of his works. Critical of superstition and religion, he once wrote, ‘We have never heard the devil’s side of the story, God wrote all the book.’ France died aged 80 in 1924, making his state funeral a 13-year-old memory for Sasha.

 

Anatole France at Emile Zola's Funeral, 1902
Public DomainAnatole France at Emile Zola's Funeral, 1902

 

 

Page 17. " Today it is L’heure Bleue; yesterday it was Nuits de Chine "
Advert, 1930s
Public DomainAdvert, 1930s
L’Heure Bleue (The Blue Hour) was Rhys’s favourite perfume. It was also the title of a recent ‘personal’ biography of Rhys, by Lillian Pizzichini. The name is not insignificant, for that dusky fade-out between day and evening was what Rhys referred to as ‘The hour between dog and wolf’, when she often took to the bottle and veered from docile to vicious.
Page 18. " Place Vendôme "
Place Vendôme
Public DomainPlace Vendôme

A square in central Paris first laid at the turn of the 18th century and named for César, duc de Vendôme.

The famous central column was raised by Napoleon Bonaparte in honour of his triumph at Austerlitz.

It is the site of the Paris Ritz.

 

Google Map
Page 20. " a gigolo if she wants one? "

 

Gigolos became a known quantity in the popular culture of the 1920s and 1930s with songs like ‘Just a Gigolo’ in 1929 and Cole Porter’s ‘Anything Goes’ in 1934. The ‘male lead’ in Good Morning, Midnight is known only by this title until his name (René) is casually revealed in part three in a note he sends Sasha. Gigolos have often been seen as male equivalents of the mistress – a parasitic and shady figure – rather than prostitutes. In post-World War I culture, handsome young men – a rarity after the recent bloodshed – would accept money to escort society ladies, and at the other end of the scale, a handful of silver for a turn on the dusty floor of a dancehall. Too obviously associated with the sex act for American mores, gigolos were mostly associated with Europe (‘The Old World’) and indeed the 1926 Hollywood film Gigolo (Dir: Cecil B. DeMille) starred Rod La Roque, in reality a French-Irish American.