A View of the Empire at Sunset by Caryl Phillips
A Novel

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Yet there's beauty aplenty in Phillips' supple, often sensuous prose. Views from train windows of mist-shrouded farmland provide a pronounced contrast with the humid, blazing heat of Dominica, yet both express far more than climate.
-NPR

Synopsis

Award-winning author Caryl Phillips presents a biographical novel of the life of Jean Rhys, the author of Wide Sargasso Sea, which she wrote as a prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

Caryl Phillips’s A View of the Empire at Sunset is the sweeping story of the life of the woman who became known to the world as Jean Rhys. Born Ella Gwendolyn Rees Williams in Dominica at the height of the British Empire, Rhys lived in the Caribbean for only sixteen years before going to England. A View of the Empire at Sunset is a look into her tempestuous and unsatisfactory life in Edwardian England, 1920s Paris, and then again in London. Her dream had always been to one day return home to Dominica. In 1936, a forty-five-year-old Rhys was finally able to make the journey back to the Caribbean. Six weeks later, she boarded a ship for England, filled with hostility for her home, never to return. Phillips’s gripping new novel is equally a story about the beginning of the end of a system that had sustained Britain for two centuries but that wreaked havoc on the lives of all who lived in the shadow of the empire: both men and women, colonizer and colonized.

A true literary feat, A View of the Empire at Sunset uncovers the mysteries of the past to illuminate the predicaments of the present, getting at the heart of alienation, exile, and family by offering a look into the life of one of the greatest storytellers of the twentieth century and retelling a profound story that is singularly its own.

 

About Caryl Phillips

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Caryl Phillips was born in St. Kitts, West Indies. Brought up in England, he has written for television, radio, theater, and film. He is the author of three books of nonfiction, The European Tribe, The Atlantic Sound, and A New World Order, and six novels, The Final Passage, A State of Independence, Higher Ground, Cambridge, Crossing the River, and The Nature of Blood, and has edited two anthologies, Extravagant Strangers and The Right Set. His awards include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Phillips lives in New York.
 
Published May 22, 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 336 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for A View of the Empire at Sunset
All: 2 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 1

Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Miranda Seymour on Jul 03 2018

Phillips ends a well-intended but mildly unsatisfactory novel by imagining a penitent Gwen weeding her Welsh father’s neglected grave...

Read Full Review of A View of the Empire at Sunse... | See more reviews from Guardian

NPR

Above average
Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on May 15 2018

Yet there's beauty aplenty in Phillips' supple, often sensuous prose. Views from train windows of mist-shrouded farmland provide a pronounced contrast with the humid, blazing heat of Dominica, yet both express far more than climate.

Read Full Review of A View of the Empire at Sunse... | See more reviews from NPR

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