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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Like all her writings, Wide Sargasso Sea is a beautiful, lush, haunting story.
It's not a terrible book, but really, there are such better things you can do with your time - like watch TV, or read just about anything else.
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys is written as a prequel to Jane Eyre and tells the story of Bertha Mason, Mr Rochester's "mad" wife.
Such a beautiful novel. Written in a dreamy style, this prequel to Jane Eyre is lyrical and compelling. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sidney H. Markus
This is a beautiful novel. More than a prequel or fan fiction. Rhys seeks to undo the colonial gaze imposed on people of the "West Indies" for generations after invasion. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Megan Hewins
This gorgeous novel is about "Mrs. Rochester," the madwoman in the attic in Jane Eyre. I grew up viewing the horrifying images by Fritz Eichenberg in the classic edition of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amy Sterling Casil
Most likely the worst book I have ever read. This is the equivalent of publishing a poor Harry Potter or Twilight fanfiction and then considering it high art. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Book dude
Delivery was fine. I was just surprised at how old and yellow the pages were. Didn't affect my reading so all is well.Published 5 months ago by Rossann Baker
In 1938 great excitement was caused in the world of natural history by the discovery of the coelacanth, a species of fish which was previously known from fossil remains but was... Read morePublished 7 months ago by J C E Hitchcock