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Showing posts from March, 2012

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Cover image  ©  Penguin Modern Classics. It’s hard to believe that a book could anger me quite a much as Wide Sargasso Sea did. My anger may well be completely unreasonable, or indeed it may be borne of the exact frustration that Jean Rhys wanted a reader to feel. The novella commences not long after the 1833 Abolition of Slavery Act has come into effect in the British colony of Jamaica and follows the life of a young white Creole heiress, Antoinette, from childhood into adulthood. The story is supposed to be that of the mad woman in the attic in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre . As the novella begins, in the faded colonial plantation estate of Coulibri, the sense of a world already falling apart is overwhelming. Our narrator draws attention to the decaying grandeur early on, notably focusing on her mother’s horse: “I saw her horse lying down under the frangipani tree… he was not sick, he was dead and his eyes were black with flies.” Being caught between the haughtiness