In a nutshell: Welcome to the world of Antoinette Cosway, or better known as "the madwoman in the attic" we read about in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. Witness her steady & inevitable (?) descent to madness she probably inherited from her mother... Or was she driven out of her mind by the young Mr. Rochester?
|Written by: Jean Rhys|
Genre: Postmodern Novel
# of pages: 190
Year Published: 1966
Must you read Bronte's classic first to understand Wide Sargasso Sea? No. There are wonderful references especially in part three, but this is pretty much a stand alone novel.
What I like about this book is its use of multiple voices/POVs because it makes it more convincing to be in the shoes of both main characters. One may argue that Rhys' characters contradict what Bronte has presented to us, but by letting us into the minds of Rochester & Antoinette, despite the weaknessess and bad traits of both, we see what pushes them to do this or that, and eventually what makes them how they are in the future. And most importantly, we get to see that the madwoman in the attic is more than a horrible monster which Rochester has led Jane to believe - she's in fact a human being, who was oppressed psychologically by the people around her, making me see Bronte's novel in a whole new darker light.
My Rating: 4/5 - This may not be a book that the casual reader will appreciate because of the alternating POVs plus the complex themes used & the post-colonial setting. But if you give it a chance, it's one book that's worth your while.
- Winner of the WH Smith Literary Award in 1967, which brought Rhys to public attention after decades of obscurity.
- Named by Time as one of the 100 best English-language novels since 1923.
- Rated #94 on the list of Modern Library's 100 Best Novels
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