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

by Jean Rhys

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5,583167770 (3.57)583
Member:AndrewThomas
Title:Wide Sargasso Sea: A novel (Norton Paperback Fiction)
Authors:Jean Rhys
Info:W. W. Norton & Co. (2010), Edition: Re-issue, Paperback, 192 pages
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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)

Recently added byprivate library, joelargo, aharey, jennparm, DGSBiblio, redshoepoet, chilli, Rosalie1998
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Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
Published in 1966 (second year of my birthday challenge reading), Wide Sargasso Sea is how Jean Rhys imagines and humanizes "the mad woman in the attic" from Jane Eyre. Antoinette Mason is a white Creole living in Jamaica; later as a young woman she is married off to Mr. Rochester who comes from England in hopes of acquiring her fortune. He is not a sympathetic character here -- additionally, he tries to Anglicize Antoinette by calling her "Bertha". Gradually, in almost a dream-like trance, we see how Antoinette/Bertha become who she is at the time she is transported to England to Mr. Rochester's home. Interestingly, he is never actually named but the maid Grace Poole is, so there is no doubt.

This is a short book considering number of pages (the copy I read from had 171 pages) but not a quick read. The writing isn't difficult, but requires close attention in order to understand what all is going on. Upon finishing, it has stayed with me -- so much so that I bought a copy of my own (had originally read a library copy) with the intentions of re-reading in the near future.

The reader does not necessarily have to have previously read Jane Eyre but some knowledge of the story is helpful. Additionally, this isn't a prequel in the truest sense but focuses more on the female experience in post-colonial West Indies. Jean Rhys herself was born in Dominica and the daughter of a British father and a white Creole (the term is used in the book) and moved to Europe as a young woman. ( )
  ValerieAndBooks | Nov 16, 2016 |
The Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys; (4*)

I think that Jean Rhys did an excellent job of creating an interesting storyline as well as boggling our minds with the beauty of Colubri. Her images were so strong that I didn't have to try to imagine the characters or settings. I could see, smell & feel them.

This brilliant novel primarily deals with contradictions and ambiguity. Written as a prelude to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Jean Rhys creates an identity for the otherwise shadowy figure of Bertha Mason, Rochester's mad creole wife, through Antoinette a beautiful lonely Creole woman. Wide Sargasso Sea deals with contradictions and not just with feminist "rag issues" as other reviewers suggest, rather tending to deal with gender reversal. Christophine, the freed black slave from another Caribbean Island, is a strong female character who displays masculine traits standing up to the bullying unnamed Englishman (Rochester) who tries to use oppressive colonialist tactics to control the inhabitants of an exotic Island which cannot be controlled. Both are wild and unruly compared to his staid English persona and as such, something which he cannot relate to. Antoinette is the weak female figure who is finally destroyed by the Enlgishman, driven to madness through a combination of his desire for her and his distaste and hate for everything that she represents. An intriguing tale full of ambiguity Wide Sargasso Sea is a sad tale of dispossession and dislocation.

But please do not attempt to compare The Wide Sargasso Sea to Jane Eyre. To do that is to do yourself & Jean Rhys a great disservice. ( )
3 vote rainpebble | Oct 1, 2016 |
So, I read Jane Eyre because I wanted to read this novel - which is not how I think it's supposed to go, but it's the direction I went in.

The thing that I remembered most about this book is the lingering feeling it left me with. Rhys is brilliant at writing very atmospheric novels, and I think this is no exception.

I think I expected a milder voice - but I got something different. A little more sultry, a little more savage, and I did really enjoy it. (Please excuse the rating of three stars, I find the rating of books - particularly between one and five stars - to be a little bit arbitrary.)

This novel is beautiful and its prose has lingered on with me for quite a few years now.

Reading this book was a really sensory experience - and I would consider it even if you haven't read Jane Eyre. ( )
  lydia1879 | Aug 31, 2016 |
I put off reading Wide Sargasso Sea because all the reviews I read – mostly before joining GR – only focused on this book being a prequel to Jane Eyre, and I was afraid this might be another piece of fan fiction.
Man, was I wrong!

I’m not sure if knowing the story of Jane E. actually helps reading this book. It might help with the ending - if you don't like cliffhangers, that is.

WSS does work perfectly well as a stand-alone book. I thought the connection with Jane Eyre enabled Rhys to focus on the characters and develop the atmosphere and emotional development of Antoinette and Mr. Rochester rather than having to spend much time on developing a captivating plot. And the creation of an atmosphere is what Rhys manages - in a way not dissimilar to Daphne DuMaurier - perfectly. It drew me right into the story.

There also is one observation about Wide Sargasso Sea I just can't get out of my mind: The use of alcohol - in what seems to be quite large amounts - as a sedative for the troubled minds of both Antoinette and Rochester seems to be ubiquitous, and I cannot help but wonder if this was a description of Rhys' own coping mechanisms that led to her alcoholism.

( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
This goes into some detail about the origins of Bertha Mason (the first wife of Rochester in Jane Eyre). It is fantastic! I have read it a few times and I will definitely read it again in the future. ( )
  RojaHorchata | Jul 11, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jean Rhysprimary authorall editionscalculated
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.
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'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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