Written as a prequel to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Wide Sargasso Sea is now a classic in its own right. It tells the story of Antoinette Cosway, a white Creole woman from Jamaica, who will eventually become the attic-bound Mrs. Rochester. In rich and evocative prose, Rhys details Antoinette’s childhood at Coulibri, a grand but crumbling estate, and her volatile marriage to a wealthy Englishman. In under 200 pages, Wide Sargasso Sea examines issues of race, colonialism, mental illness, and marriage’s constricting gender roles.
“I hated the mountains and the hills, the rivers and the rain. I hated the sunsets of whatever colour, I hated its beauty and its magic and the secret I would never know. I hated its indifference and the cruelty which was part of its loveliness. Above all I hated her. For she belonged to the magic and the loveliness. She had left me thirsty and all my life would be thirst and longing for what I had lost before I found it.”
Jean Rhys (1890-1979) was born in Dominica and, at the age of 16, was sent to England, where she lived for most of her life. Her books include Quartet; Voyage in the Dark; Good Morning, Midnight; and Wide Sargasso Sea.
Length: 176 pages
Primary Settings: Jamaica; Dominica
Secondary Setting: England
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