Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Rating: 6/10

Published: 1966
Number of pages: 177

Started: 18 March 2008
Finished: 22 March 2008

Summary (taken from blurb):

Jean Rhys' late literary masterpiece, Wide Sargasso Sea, was inspired by Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and is set in the lush, beguiling landscape of Jamaica in the 1830s.

Born into an oppressive colonialist society, Creole heiress Antoinette Cosway meets a young Englishman who is drawn to her innocent sensuality and beauty. After their marriage disturbing rumours begin to circulate, poisoning her husband against her. Caught between his demands and her own precarious sense of belonging, Antoinette is driven towards madness.

Nothing in this story particularly appealed to me. I found it very hard to identify with any of the characters or feel any sympathy for them. I don't think Rochester behaved or spoke in any way that was reminiscent of his character in Jane Eyre, so I struggled to make the connection between the two stories, although it improved slightly at the end, when the two books were overlapping.

However, I did find it interesting when taken in a historical context, having previously known nothing about colonial Jamaica or the Creoles and emancipated slaves who lived and suffered there. The descriptions of Coulibris and the surrounding countryside were evocative and quite beautiful, but that's about where my praise ends I'm afraid.

1 comment:

Mangoshorty said...

Randomly came across your page while searching for Wide Sargasso Sea, and I agree with your take on the novel. I thought the characters dull and felt no emotion for any of them, but I appreciated Rhys's writing.