8 Apr 2015



BACK COVER BLURB: Jean Rhys's late literary masterpiece, Wide Sargasso Sea, was inspired by Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and is set in the lush, beguiling landscape of Jamaica in the 1830s.

Born into an oppressive colonialist society, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent sensuality and beauty. After their marriage disturbing rumours begin to circulate, poisoning her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is driven towards madness.

SOURCE: A Reader's Group read.

FIRST SENTENCE {Part One}: They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 42}: Everything is too much, I felt as I wearily after her. Too much blue, too much purple, too much green. The flowers too red, the mountains too high, the hills too near.

MY THOUGHTS: First published in 1966. A prequel to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (published some 119 previously), apparently Rhys's Antoinette Cosway and Bronte's 'mad woman in the attic' Bertha Rochester (nee Mason) are one and the same.  

Divided into three sections, the first and third sections narrated by Antoinette (the former as a girl, the latter as an adult), the second section by Mr Rochester. I'm afraid I found this unsettling, the metamorphose of Antoinette from young girl to married woman too abrupt to really work, the flow of the story disturbed.

Whilst the language was not nearly as flowery or out-dated as I had expected I'm afraid it was however written in such a way as to be so matter of fact that the true horror of some of the events was not conveyed.

Overall left oddly cold and confused by this short novella of 119 pages (plus extras amounting to a further 46). Having discussed it with friends afterwards the general consensus seemed to be that as I hadn't read Jane Eyre there was little chance of Wide Sargasso Sea making much sense.


Kelly said...

My reading of Jane Eyre has been well over 40 years ago, so I guess I'd need a refresher to enjoy this. Still... I'm a bit turned off by the fact it's written as an actual "prequel", so I imagine I'll just pass on it.

Alexia561 said...

I've heard of this book, but had no idea it was supposed to be a prequel to Jane Eyre! As I didn't really care for Jane or Mr Rochester, I think I'll give this one a pass. Thanks for another honest review!

P.S. Love playing with your little dog Waffles over in the sidebar! :)

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I like retellings but not sure I would like this one. I have read Jane Eyre but if it doesn't work for you, it probably won't work for me.

Suko said...

Thanks for your honest review. I've read another review of this in the past.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Thanks for sharing. I've never read Jane Eyre, so I don't think I'd get much out of this one.

Melliane said...

I haven't read the original book but sorry to see that the novella is confusing.

Brian Joseph said...

As someone who is very impressed by the novel Jane Austen this one has been on my radar as something to possibly read.

The matter of fact writing that you describe sounds like it could be a deal breaker for me. I think that a book like this should have some style to the writing.

Claudine G. said...

Somebody mentioned this book to me few years ago. I didn't know I'd have to read Jane Eyre to fully understand it. (Mmmh, but I really don't have plans to read Jane Eyre yet ...)

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

I read and really enjoyed Jane Eyre about 10 years ago. I was excited when I saw this was written as a prequel, and I am glad to hear your thoughts on it. Hopefully having read Jane Eyre this novella would be better. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

Tracy Terry said...

One of those rare occasions when the whole group agreed on a book. Even those who had read Jane Eyre didn't enjoy this one.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

None of your group enjoyed this book and yet every site seems to have this one of Jean Rhys's books, marked down as the defining piece of her career.

I generally like this style of deep writing, however I haven't read 'Jane Eyre' for donkeys years, so it probably wouldn't make much sense, unless I was coming at it as if it was a complete stand alone story, do you think that might work?

Thanks for being so totally honest with your opinion :)


Tracy Terry said...

Further on from our conversation on GoodReads and your above comment Yvonne I've thought more on it and the answer is I'm still not sure. Given that even the names are different could well mean that this would work well as a stand-alone read though I'm still not convinced.