Sleep It Off Lady

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Sleep It Off Lady
First edition
Author Jean Rhys
Cover artist Rosemary Honeybourne
Language English
Publisher André Deutsch (UK)
Harper & Row (USA)
Publication date
October 1976
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 176 pp
ISBN 0-233-96818-0

Sleep It Off Lady, originally published in late 1976 by André Deutsch of Great Britain, was famed Dominican author Jean Rhys' final collection of short stories. The sixteen stories in this collection stretch over an approximate 75-year period, starting from the end of the nineteenth century (November 1899) to the present time of writing (circa 1975).

The back of the first UK edition cover features a tribute from A. Alvarez in which he praises Jean Rhys as "simply the best living English novelist..."[citation needed]

Stories in the collection[edit]

(a synopsis follows each title)

  • "Pioneers, Oh, Pioneers": At the turn of the twentieth century, a doctor experiences the final hours of an ill-fated estate house bought only days before by his rival.
  • "Goodbye Marcus, Goodbye Rose": A captain and his wife pay a visit to Dominica while vacationing in Jamaica for the winter.
  • "The Bishop's Feast": A home-born returnee is invited by an old nun to witness the enthronement of a new Bishop in Roseau, before spending a week on Dominica's leeward coast.
  • "Heat": The effects of the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelée on Dominica.
  • "Fishy Waters": Racial tensions between a British carpenter and local folk erupt into a scandal that eventually finds its way into Roseau's courtroom.
  • "Overture and Beginners Please": In this first of four consecutive stories about a pre-World War I Caribbean immigrant named Elsa, the young girl starts at Perse School then becomes a stage star in the midst of an unwanted life.
  • "Before the Deluge": Elsa meets a stage girl—a policeman's daughter from Manchester—whose beauty never succeeds while entertaining her audience.
  • "On Not Shooting Sitting Birds": An English gentleman rejects Elsa for good after hearing of her past exploits during hunting trips in her homeland.
  • "Kikimora": At a first-class hotel, Elsa discovers how perceptive the title character, a black cat, can be, as compared to a husband.
  • "Night Out 1925": The experiences of two lovers, Suzy and Gilbert, in the streets of Paris.
  • "The Chevalier of the Place Blanche": In the English-language version of a work by the author's first husband, Jean Lenglet (written under his nom-de-plume of Edouard de Nève), the title character shares his desire with a British lady in a 1920s Paris restaurant.
  • "The Insect World": An old lady shows a young child the disturbing connections between London underground dwellers and a tropical insect parasite whose name they share in slang.
  • "Rapunzel, Rapunzel": A hospital patient makes a temporary stay at a convalescent home in London, with a long-haired Australian as her neighbour.
  • "Who Knows What's Up in the Attic?": A vacationer in south-east England comes face-to-face with a clothing salesman.
  • "Sleep It Off Lady": In this story from which the collection takes its name, another old lady faces a rat problem while taking care of her cottage.
  • "Used to Live Here Once": In this final story, the author makes her way across a familiar childhood stream and discovers she is deceased.[1]

Previous publications[edit]


  1. ^ (Clugston 2010, sec 7.5)