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Wide Sargasso Sea: A novel (Norton Paperback…

Wide Sargasso Sea: A novel (Norton Paperback Fiction) (original 1966; edition 2010)

by Jean Rhys

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Title:Wide Sargasso Sea: A novel (Norton Paperback Fiction)
Authors:Jean Rhys
Info:W. W. Norton & Co. (2010), Edition: Re-issue, Paperback, 192 pages
Collections:Your library

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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)

Recently added bylucyknows, sarahlu82, PaulDalton, timhankey, private library, MacabreGoblin, Bici47, RVHSGriggs, TerriB, seite
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    srdr: This brilliant drama illuminates the themes that run through Jean Rhys's life, Wide Sargasso Sea, and Jane Eyre.
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English (142)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (147)
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
Jean Rhys was a bit of a character and this novel, set in the Caribbean she grew up in, features a misunderstood woman who falls victim to both her Creole upbringing and the man she marries.

The basic premise is that this is a prequel to Jane Eyre but written 120 years after it. It’s not essential to have read Eyre before you tackle Sargasso, but it will make a lot more sense if you do, particularly part 3. In fact, it was one of the rare moments in my life where I was actually glad I’d read Jane Eyre. The others were when I realised I didn’t still have it left to read.

Anyway, this is a tragedy from start to finish and Rhys does an excellent job of creating an aura of gloom, despondency and creeping madness right from the start. There’s virtually no joy in it, and you get this sense that whatever positives there may be in the lives of the characters, it’s only a matter of time before everything caves in.

Antoinette, for that is the name of the future Mrs Rochester, has a sad childhood with a mother who is not quite there in more ways than one. As a Creole, she doesn’t fit in any category and this sense of isolation plagues her right through the novel, even when Mr Rochester finally arrives and, suddenly, we find her married.

The marriage is obviously one of societal (read, financial) convenience and what little passion there is between them soon evaporates leaving behind a thin crust of bitterness and mistrust. This is the main theme of part 2.

Part 3 sees us in England and, having shown us the world according to both Mr and Mrs Rochester, we now find ourselves seeing things from the point of view of Grace Poole, Rochester’s housekeeper, who is tasked with caring for the mad woman now confined in Thornfield House, Rochester’s residence in the UK.

I enjoyed this principally because the development of novel-writing in between Eyre and Sargasso meant that the character of Antoinette was much more fleshed out than I found any character to be in the original. For me, this has rescued Eyre for me and means that, if ever I read it again, I will do so with more insight than previously. This is a good thing, I think. ( )
  arukiyomi | Jul 25, 2015 |
I found this far more interesting than Jane Eyre. ( )
  Smigs | Jul 23, 2015 |
humid, close ( )
  annadanz | Jul 5, 2015 |
Prequel to Jane Eyre. This is the story of how the mad woman came to be in Mr. Rochester's house. An easy read and a good story. ( )
  LJF | Mar 22, 2015 |
I read Jane Eyre recently, so really wanted to read this (it is _so obviously_ the other side of the coin that needs telling). So half of me loved it - it is the other half of the story, it is the sympathetic tale of the bad guy, it is exotic and lyrical. But half of me didn't like it - it is shreds and glimpses, things happening off stage, finding out later about things that happened that were important. Never a strong conclusion, just a nebulous cloud of hints and experiences. ( )
  atreic | Feb 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 142 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jean Rhysprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ashworth, AndreaIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorsman-Vos, W.A.Translatorsecondary 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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W.W. Norton

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

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182857, 0241951550

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