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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean. Rhys

Wide Sargasso Sea (original 1966; edition 1994)

by Jean. Rhys

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6,116176960 (3.57)671
Title:Wide Sargasso Sea
Authors:Jean. Rhys
Info:Thorndike, Me.: Thorndike Press, 1994. 231 p. (large print) ; 23 cm.
Collections:Your library

Work details

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)

  1. 251
    Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (aces)
  2. 61
    The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert (Imprinted)
  3. 20
    Near to the Wild Heart by Clarice Lispector (Petroglyph)
    Petroglyph: Even though Near to the wild heart was written some twenty years prior to Wide Sargasso Sea, these two share numerous features: the interior monologue, the lyricism, the heroine mostly living inside her skull, the central character who doesn’t see a way out of their mental frustrations with life. Lispector kicked all that up a few notches, but to me these two belong close together on my mental shelves.… (more)
  4. 31
    March by Geraldine Brooks (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Classic stories (Little Women/Jane Eyre) re-imagined through the experiences of characters who are important to the plot while being almost entirely unseen.
  5. 10
    After Mrs Rochester by Polly Teale (srdr)
    srdr: This brilliant drama illuminates the themes that run through Jean Rhys's life, Wide Sargasso Sea, and Jane Eyre.
  6. 10
    Grendel by John Gardner (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Classics retold to give voice to silent characters important to their plots.
  7. 21
    Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica by Zora Neale Hurston (cammykitty)
  8. 00
    The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Philosofiction)
  9. 00
    Journey to the End of the Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (Cecilturtle)
    Cecilturtle: colonialisme
  10. 01
    Bug-Jargal by Victor Hugo (Medicinos)
    Medicinos: Bug-Jargal décrit une société antillaise basée sur l'exploitation des esclaves qui éclate lorsque ces derniers se rebellent. La prisonnière des Sargasses décrit une société analogue après la rébellion.
  11. 01
    Blessed Is the Fruit: A Novel by Robert Antoni (IsolaBlue)
  12. 02
    Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry (GlebtheDancer)
    GlebtheDancer: Dark, foreboding, claustrophobic feel. Self-destruction of central character. Similar prose styles.
  13. 03
    Signed, Mata Hari: A Novel by Yannick Murphy (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Lush depiction of tropics with natives playing important roles, women "bought" and tragic endings

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» See also 671 mentions

English (169)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (175)
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)
Jean Rhys takes us to the West Indies, an environment that is heavy, languid, stifling, and claustrophobic. It is not surprising that people go insane here, what is surprising is that anyone is able to keep their sanity. In this world of mysticism, racial mixtures and moving boundaries, is born the tragedy that becomes the catalyst to one of the greatest love stories of all time. But that is after, this story belongs, not to the governess, but to the wife.

Antoinette Cosway is a girl who is pressed beyond her limits. Subject to her environment and her mother’s precarious hold on her own wits, Antoinette is destined to be a mix of all that is fragile and all that is fierce. She battles, and narrowly wins, until she is sold into marriage to her unlucky bridegroom. His lack of understanding of who she is, and her unconventional worship of him, take her beyond the limits of her abilities to cope, and plunges her into a darkness that is frightful.

There is a mix of voodoo, mystery and madness in this novel that is riveting. You pray for help and hope for this poor girl, and yet you know it is not coming, for you know her end before you even begin her story. You have glimpsed her before, almost without pity, but in Rhys’ hands you find the pity and it is all encompassing.

Short and sweet and fantastic. One hundred and ninety pages of power. A must-read.
( )
  phantomswife | Jul 6, 2018 |
ATW 2018 Jamaica
RTC 2018 Jamaica ( )
  Critterbee | Apr 16, 2018 |
I read Jane Eyre during my early primary school years (aged 9 to be exact. Much to my mothers frustration my reading comprehensive age was about 13 years older than I was. I say frustration because I wanted to read books probably too old for me psychologically - I did NOT want to read Dick and Dora and was not interested in seeing Spot run!).

I LOVED it. Of all the classics it is in my top 3.

So it's surprising that it took me another 33 years to read Wide Sargasso Sea. And I kind of understand why it took Jean Rhys so long to write it. It just didn't quite gel as a prequel. I think fans of Jane Eyre fall in love with the premise - who was the madwoman in the attic and how did she get to that point in her life. It's a story we want to hear.

While the itself book was well written it is hard to view it in isolation from the original Jane Eyre story - especially where existing characters such as Rochester come in. Undoubtedly it would be difficult to write another's character when they are of such fame and well known and Rhys makes a fair effort - but for the most part he does not ring true. Of course, people (or characters) change over time - but the job of the author is to make that change feel authentic.

I felt that Antoinette's descent into madness seemed a little too quick - though in fact it did happen over years, the short narrative made it seem much quicker. But likewise I would not have wanted to book to drag out any longer.

Over all - it I liked the story well enough but I didn't LOVE it. It is on many "books to read before you die" lists and it's the type of book you read for school as opposed to pure enjoyment.

It hit the halfway mark for me - 2.5 stars but out of love and respect for my beloved Jane Eyre, I shall round up to 3.

( )
2 vote Dunsh01 | Feb 13, 2018 |
Tip: if you want to read this book, read it before Jane Eyre...not months after...like I did. Or you could read them however you want and eventually if you have any misunderstandings just check out Bertha's timeline.

I'm really impressed by the author managing to create such a great story for the "mad woman in the attic."
There are always some characters the writers or readers tend to ignore but sometimes it can make you wonder and think about what's going on with their life or why did they end up the way they did and mostly you don't really get the answers so Jean Rhys had this incredible idea to write a book on Bertha Mason's life.
I really recommend it to everyone that enjoyed Jane Eyre or want to read it.

( )
1 vote Denicbt | Feb 5, 2018 |
Jane Eyre is my all-time favorite book, so I was excited to finally pick up this short novel which fleshes out the life of Bertha, the madwoman in the attic. I really liked the Caribbean setting, which helped to build the character of Antoinette Cosway. I liked how sympathetic a character Antoinette was, even as her world began to fracture and her grip on reality started to fade. The traditional culture of the Caribbean and the supernatural beliefs of those Antoinette grew up with certainly muddied the water as the young woman struggled with her sanity and adapted to her marriage. This is a must-read for Jane Eyre fans and a fascinating short novel in its own right. ( )
1 vote wagner.sarah35 | Dec 4, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 169 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (25 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rhys, Jeanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ashworth, AndreaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, AngelaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyndham, FrancisIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.
'If you are buried under a flamboyant tree,' I said, 'your soul is lifted up when it flowers. Everyone wants that.'
The saints we hear about were all very beautiful and wealthy. All were loved by rich and handsome young men.
Reality might disconcert her, bewilder her, hurt her, but it would not be reality. It would be only a mistake, a misfortune, a wrong path taken, her fixed ideas would never change.
'So between you I often wonder who I am and where is my country and where do I belong and why was I ever born at all.'
'You can pretend for a long time, but one day it all falls away and you are alone.'
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0393308804, Paperback)

In 1966 Jean Rhys reemerged after a long silence with a novel called Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys had enjoyed minor literary success in the 1920s and '30s with a series of evocative novels featuring women protagonists adrift in Europe, verging on poverty, hoping to be saved by men. By the '40s, however, her work was out of fashion, too sad for a world at war. And Rhys herself was often too sad for the world--she was suicidal, alcoholic, troubled by a vast loneliness. She was also a great writer, despite her powerful self-destructive impulses.

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."

The novel is Rhys's answer to Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë's book had long haunted her, mostly for the story it did not tell--that of the madwoman in the attic, Rochester's terrible secret. Antoinette is Rhys's imagining of that locked-up woman, who in the end burns up the house and herself. Wide Sargasso Sea follows her voyage into the dark, both from her point of view and Rochester's. It is a voyage charged with soul-destroying lust. "I watched her die many times," observes the new husband. "In my way, not in hers. In sunlight, in shadow, by moonlight, by candlelight. In the long afternoons when the house was empty."

Rhys struggled over the book, enduring rejections and revisions, wrestling to bring this ruined woman out of the ashes. The slim volume was finally published when she was 70 years old. The critical adulation that followed, she said, "has come too late." Jean Rhys died a few years later, but with Wide Sargasso Sea she left behind a great legacy, a work of strange, scary loveliness. There has not been a book like it before or since. Believe me, I've been searching. --Emily White

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:45 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

Beautiful and wealthy Antoinette Cosway's passionate love for an English aristocrat threatens to destroy her idyllic West Indian island existence and her very life.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.57)
0.5 6
1 36
1.5 9
2 139
2.5 47
3 357
3.5 111
4 489
4.5 57
5 243

W.W. Norton

An edition of this book was published by W.W. Norton.

» Publisher information page

Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182857, 0241951550

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