Saturday, December 29, 2012

Rochester's Secret

Wide Sargasso Sea

Wide Sargasso Sea 

“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, Wide Sargasso Sea

In this novel Jean Rhys presents a luminous evocation of the youth and marriage of Mr. Rochester's lunatic wife. How many of us had wondered when reading Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, who was that woman in the attic, what had she done to deserve her incarceration, and why did no one try to help her? Written in a different age, here at last was a book that offered some kind of explanation, even for the fire Bertha starts at Thornfield Hall. Imagined as Antoinette Cosway, the girl undergoes painful permutations on her short journey from the West Indies to a small prison-like room in Great Britain. I enjoyed the portrayal of the native patois and the tightly written narrative of Ms. Rhys. It was an entertaining, if painful, read. I look forward to reading earlier novels by Rhys (Quartet and Good Morning, Midnight).

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Folio Society, 1993 (1966)

a Goodreads update.

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