★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys | 1966 | W. W. Norton | Paperback $14.95
With Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys’ last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction’s most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.
What can I really say about this book that hasn’t already been said, and by people far more eloquent than myself?
Whatever, it’s MY OWN DANG BLOG, DANGIT.
Anyway, this might not have been the absolute best time to read this book? I mean, Jean Rhys Reading Week, so that’s one point in its favor. But I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately, and… well, this (IMHO) was a fantastic novel. So on the one hand, I was actually motivated to read and was super happy to have spent my time on it! But on the other hand, how can anything else compare to this???
OK, maybe I’m just being overly dramatic.
TBQH, I might not have picked up this book if it weren’t for the word “Sargasso” in the title. Now, I know that might seem weird, but hear me out: I live on the Gulf Coast. Every year, we (or some other spot in/on the Gulf of Mexico) will get an influx of this Sargassum shit. I realize that might seem like a crazy reason to put a book on your TBR list — it happens to mention a type of seaweed in the title! oh joy! — but is it honestly any worse than “the cover is pretty” or “it’s a classic so people SHOULD read it”… ?
In any case, I am so, so glad that I put this on my Classics Club list — and I’m so, so grateful to the folks who hosted Jean Rhys Reading Week this year. Maybe this was just what I needed to read at this point in my life? It kinda felt like it….
So: You? Have you read this novel — & what did you think of it? Did you participate in Jean Rhys Reading Week, too?
- Jean Rhys Reading Week
- ‘Wide Sargasso Sea Revisited’ at The Paris Review
- ‘Jean Rhys: Prostitution, Alcoholism, and the Mad Woman in the Attic’ at The Independent
- ‘Charlotte Brontë May Have Started The Fire, but Jean Rhys Burned Down the House’ at LitHub
Publication information: Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. NY: W. W. Norton & Co., 1966. Print.
Source: Purchased for personal use.
Disclaimer: I am not compensated, monetarily or otherwise, for reviews of books or other products.