Saturday, November 17, 2007

Laura's Review - Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea
Jean Rhys
266 pages

First sentence: They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.

Reflections: Wide Sargasso Sea is well-known as the "prequel" to Jane Eyre. Rhys tells the life story of Antoinette Mason, a Creole who becomes the mad woman in Jane Eyre. The story itself is quite short (113 pages). My copy, a Norton Critical Edition, contained considerable supplementary material. Relevant excerpts from Jane Eyre helped refresh my memory and made the necessary connections between the two books. An essay by Rachel Carson described the natural phenomenon of the Sargasso Sea. There were also several essays of literary criticism analyzing this work, and numerous letters written by Jean Rhys.

As the supplementary material indicates, this book has received considerable acclaim, and been the subject of widespread analysis. Although I found Wide Sargasso Sea to be a mildly interesting read, and enhanced certain aspects of Jane Eyre, it fell short of my expectations. It was interesting to consider how Mr. Rochester and Antoinette came together, but their relationship was poorly developed. The reasons for Antoinette's descent into madness were unclear, and I found it difficult to identify or sympathize with the characters. ( )

My original review can be found here.

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