Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

A sensual and protected young woman, Antoinette Cosway grows up in the lush natural world of the Caribbean. She is sold into marriage to the cold-hearted and prideful Rochester, who succumbs to his need for money and his lust. Yet he will make her pay for her ancestors' sins of slave-holding, excessive drinking, and nihilistic despair by enslaving her as a prisoner in his bleak English home.

In this best-selling novel Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.


I was intrigued by the idea of this novel because Jane Eyre is one of my favorite novels of all time. Despite my many readings of Jane Eyre, I have never really given much thought to Rochester's crazy wife. She was always an obstacle and I'm sorry to say that I probably didn't have as much sympathy for her. I think mostly because her story was told through Rochester's bias. So the idea of getting her story from her point of view drew to this novel.

However, I thought this novel was lack luster. I found the narrative to be convoluted, disjointed, and confusing. Despite being a fairly short novel, it took me some time to get through it. I frequently had to re-read sections in order to understand them. I found most of the characters to be flat and underdeveloped, making it hard to connect with the characters, especially with Antoinette. In the end, I was left with the same indifferent attitude towards Antoinette that I had prior to reading the novel. I was disappointed.

2015 Reading Challenge: A book written by an author with your same initials

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