Good Morning, Midnight is a stream-of-consciousness narrative detailing the psychological breakdown of an alcoholic Englishwoman alone in Paris of 1937, dwelling on her past, fearful of her present and leavening her pain with strong drink and gallows humour.
Menopausal Sasha Jensen has been rescued by a friend from drinking herself to death in her Bloomsbury bedsit. She sets out for a sober and stoic fortnight in Paris, city of her youth, resolving to avoid human contact, drink little, think even less and get her hair platinumed.
The fortnight gets off to an inauspicious start with a cheap hotel situated on a dead-end street and a room overlooking an alleyway. It is all she can afford. The sinister man in the next room looks her up and down in the hallway, heightening her paranoia and conviction that everything and everyone conceals something horrible.
Sasha sets out into the autumnal streets of Paris, anxious to avoid anywhere which may evoke happier times. She determines to rise late, take walks, go to the cinema, eat in quiet cafes, take one drink, and return to her room for deep dreamless sleeps. Yet in the days that follow, everywhere prompts memories: her youthful marriage, the shabby room in Montmartre, happy newlywed poverty turning to destitution, the death of her newborn baby boy and her husband’s abandonment. With grim humour, she recalls in detail her jobs (model, shop assistant) and slapstick humiliation suffered at the hands of her bosses.
Days later, in her old fur coat and freshly dyed hair, she attracts a handsome young man, who believes her a rich woman. The Gigolo is kind-hearted but forced to be mercenary by circumstance. She tells him she’s broke, yet he is lonely and asks her to meet him at the Dôme the following night. Sasha feels a flicker of life inside, but anticipates disappointment, which she believes is her lot.
The following evening over brandies, Sasha and the Gigolo discuss their pasts, sexuality and friendship. The Gigolo believes London is full of women crying out for his services, and she genuinely pities his naiveté. The mood changes when she refuses his offer of sex. She feels shy and self-conscious, unable to give of herself. Still, he follows her back to her room and they drink whisky from tooth mugs. He tries to force himself on her, and Sasha struggles briefly before giving in. However, the Gigolo does not follow through, straightening himself up with bitterness, rejection and disappointment which briefly make them equals. Broken, she tells him to take her money and go. He leaves the money, and elated by this mercy, Sasha drinks to his health. She finishes the bottle and in a drunken stupor, tries through force of will to make the Gigolo return. Her door eventually opens and it is the gaunt, nasty man from the next room. Whether Sasha knows or cares remains ambiguous, as she pulls him down into bed with her. She has given up.