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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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Companion book to Wuthering heights. Intense, raw and holds your interest.
The interracial storyline and madness make it a great read that mirrors things still, today. Read more
I taught Wide Sargasso Sea for the first time this semester in my course on gender and madness. As a lover of Jane Eyre and as someone who always felt that poor Bertha Mason was... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lindsey
This book was recommended to me as a "classic, must read". At first I resisted as I did not want to change my understanding of "Jane Eyre". Read morePublished 2 months ago by book club member
I can’t help but feel that the general critical evaluation of Jean Rhys’ 1966 prequel to Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea, benefits from modern PC sensibilities, dealing as it does... Read morePublished 4 months ago by M. Buzalka
Wonderfully existential and saddening. Beautiful example of post-colonial writing.Published 6 months ago by Paige Graham