- I heard about this book last year while attending school.
Summary from GoodReads:
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.”
Wide Sargasso Sea is the story that Charlotte Bronte did not tell – and Jean Rhys’s masterful job in doing so. I had first heard about this book in an introduction to literature class I took Fall of ’11, but although my interest was caught, I was floundering under the heavy weight of homework and recovering from a car accident, so the title got pushed to the back of my mind.
Then, Spring ’12, in my British Lit class, once again the title came up. We had been discussing Jane Eyre and Bertha – the mad woman in the attic, and batting around various theories. One of the theories that caught my interest was how Bertha was the parts of Jane that she had suppressed through years of practice. This was brought to mind especially with the similarities between the two characters. But then, once again, the title of Wide Sargasso Sea was put onto the board and I remembered that this was one I wanted to read.
Then, fairly recently, an article was posted to Twitter of “modern literary adaptations” of classics that should be read. Once again, there was Jean Rhys’s book .. so excuses aside, off to the library I went.
Wide Sargasso Sea is a short, but meaty read. I actually read the book twice – two afternoons in a row. The story is one of Antoinette (known later as Bertha) and the path that led to her madness. Jean Rhys gives a powerful voice to the mad woman in the attic and, as expected, the story behind Bertha was a tragic one which parts a very unflattering picture of Mr. Rochester.
If you would like to keep a romantic ideal of Mr. Rochester, I’d recommend steering clear of this title – however if you, like me, love Jane Eyre and would like to see Bertha given a voice (because, really people, she was LOCKED away in an attic), then I recommend picking this book up and letting it blow your mind a little.
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