About the Book
Title: Wide Sargasso Sea
Author: Jean Rhys
Publication: Penguin Classics; New Edition (30 March 2000)
Summary: Born into the oppressive, colonialist society of 1930s Jamaica, white Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent beauty and sensuality. After their marriage, however, disturbing rumours begin to circulate which poison her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is inexorably driven towards madness, and her husband into the arms of another novel's heroine. This classic study of betrayal, a seminal work of postcolonial literature, is Jean Rhys's brief, beautiful masterpiece.
What I Think
Wide Sargasso Sea is a prequel to Jane Eyre. However, it's written by a different author, in a different time and with (mainly) different characters. It (supposedly) tells the story of Mr Rochester and Bertha Mason, Mr Rochester's mad first wife who lives in the attic. I say 'supposedly' because I don't feel that this book really sheds any more light on the story and found a lot of the plot to be full of holes and confusing. I was disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more, but unfortunately I just didn't.
About the Author
Jean Rhys (1894-1979) was born in Dominica. Coming to England aged 16, she drifted into various jobs before moving to Paris, where she began writing and was 'discovered' by Ford Madox Ford. Her novels, often portraying women as underdogs out to exploit their sexualities, were ahead of their time and only modestly successful. From 1939 (when Good Morning, Midnight was written) onwards she lived reclusively, and was largely forgotten when she made a sensational comeback with her account of Jane Eyre's Bertha Rochester, Wide Sargasso Sea, in 1966.