Wide Sargasso Sea: A Norton Critical Edition by Jean Rhys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After giving myself some time to dwell on it, I had to up my rating of this book. I think this book was my favorite of this class.
This book is written as a sort of prequel to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. It really changes your opinions of Bertha and Rochester (or just mine). I always felt bad for Bertha, having your husband lock you away in the attic because you went crazy, now I really feel bad for her when you read Rhys' back story of how she ended up the crazy woman locked in the attic. I had felt bad for Rochester for having the first wife that wasn't the love of his life and who went crazy; I no longer feel bad for Rochester! Well, I guess I do, but just not as much as I did before reading this novel.
Being a big fan of Jane Austen, it's almost required (in a sense) to not be a fan of the Brontes. Charlotte didn't like Jane, just look at the results of a Google search for Charlotte Bronte vs. Jane Austen! If a book like this had been written about one of Jane's works. A book that changes how I view (possibly) beloved characters I would be very upset. I can't find myself getting very upset about having a changed perspective of Rochester.
Bertha (according to Rhys) starts out her life as Antoinette Cosway. Life isn't easy for her; her father dies, her mother kind of loses it, they lose their money, her mother remarries, they lose their house, her brother dies and her mother goes crazy. Antoinette ends up living in a convent until she's 18 and then her stepfather marries her off to a man who is supposed to be Edward Rochester. He doesn't really want to marry her, but he needs her money. So it's a bad marriage and it just doesn't get good for either of them. It ends with Antoinette now Bertha (Rochester changes her name) crazy and living in the attic.
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