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Wide Sargasso Sea is the story of Antoinette Cosway, a Creole heiress who grew up in the West Indies on a decaying plantation. When she comes of age she is married off to an Englishman, and he takes her away from the only place she has known--a house with a garden where "the paths were overgrown and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell. Underneath the tree ferns, tall as forest tree ferns, the light was green. Orchids flourished out of reach or for some reason not to be touched."
The novel is Rhys's answer to Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë's book had long haunted her, mostly for the story it did not tell--that of the madwoman in the attic, Rochester's terrible secret. Antoinette is Rhys's imagining of that locked-up woman, who in the end burns up the house and herself. Wide Sargasso Sea follows her voyage into the dark, both from her point of view and Rochester's. It is a voyage charged with soul-destroying lust. "I watched her die many times," observes the new husband. "In my way, not in hers. In sunlight, in shadow, by moonlight, by candlelight. In the long afternoons when the house was empty."
Rhys struggled over the book, enduring rejections and revisions, wrestling to bring this ruined woman out of the ashes. The slim volume was finally published when she was 70 years old. The critical adulation that followed, she said, "has come too late." Jean Rhys died a few years later, but with Wide Sargasso Sea she left behind a great legacy, a work of strange, scary loveliness. There has not been a book like it before or since. Believe me, I've been searching. --Emily White
Like all her writings, Wide Sargasso Sea is a beautiful, lush, haunting story.
This intimate point of view puts the reader in the skin of the character, but can be a bit confusing because we cannot always rely on the veracity of the narration.
I think that was unfair to make him that nasty, though maybe Rhys is trying to blame Jamaica for bringing this out in him.
I have been hearing about this book for years, as something unique and transformative. It was a brilliant idea of Rhys, certainly, to imagine the life of the first Mrs. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Roger Brunyate
I confess: I never read Jane Eyre, and normally, I loathe stories like this. I hate a distortion. But I loved this book. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ada Ardor
In case the reader has not heard, Wide Sargasso Sea is the imagined backstory of the mad woman in Jane Eyre, the implacable enemy of the peace and happiness of her husband, Mr. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Pete Bogg
This is one of the few novels I’ve read that was so short but explored so much. The explanations and descriptions are sparse so that it really reads as an intimate account. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Joe L
This book is for a college course I am doing. Love Jane Eyre's movies, and have seen different versions. This book was a surprise but I will keep for my personal library.Published 1 month ago by Karen