Wide Sargasso Sea- Jean Rhys


“Our garden was large and beautiful as that garden in the Bible – the tree of life grew there. But it had gone wild. The paths were overgrown and a smell of dead flowers mixed with the fresh living smell. Underneath the tree ferns, tall as forest trees, the light was green. Orchids flourished out of reach or for some reason not to be touched. One was snaky looking, another like an octopus with long thin brown tentacles bare of leaves hanging from a twisted root.”

I was curious to read this book as it was considered a sort of prequel to Jane Eyre. So I guess this counts as fanfiction? At least it’s very well-written fan fiction!

The writing style is of course different from Jane Eyre. The depictions of the Caribbean are beautiful. It’s a relatively short book and it tells the story of Mr. Rochester’s first wife, Antoinette Cosway, whom he met in Jamaica. The themes explored in the book are very postcolonialism (discusses the relationships between former slaves and slaveowners after Emancipation), identity (Antoinette is Creole and is therefore not accepted by either the blacks or the whites) and madness.

I’ve just finished reading a book about the Suffragette movement that looked into historical accounts of insanity in women. I had no idea that the word “hysteria” was first used to describe a supposed mental ailment that women suffered from all because they had a uterus. *sigh* Apart from being frustrated by that piece of pseudoscience, what’s also frustrating is the fact that historically a lot of people were unaware that the environment one lives in can make one “crazy.” Women in particular, who were often reliant on men and didn’t have their own freedom were obviously more likely to suffer from nervous breakdowns.

I’m pretty sure most readers will change their opinion of Rochester after they read this. I will definitely see him in a less than favourable light when I do re-read Jane Eyre.

“Blot out the moon, Pull down the stars. Love in the dark, for we’re for the dark So soon, so soon.”


7 thoughts on “Wide Sargasso Sea- Jean Rhys

  1. I may have to add this one to my list because I’m curious how madness is depicted. Have you read Girl, Interrupted? I loved that book.

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