Wide Sargasso Sea

( 34 )

Overview

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 coldhearted and prideful Rochester, who succumbs to his need for money and his lust. Yet he will make her pay for her ancestors' sins of slaveholding, excessive drinking, and nihilistic despair by enslaving her as a prisoner in his black British home.
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Wide Sargasso Sea

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Overview

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 coldhearted and prideful Rochester, who succumbs to his need for money and his lust. Yet he will make her pay for her ancestors' sins of slaveholding, excessive drinking, and nihilistic despair by enslaving her as a prisoner in his black British home.
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Editorial Reviews

The Nation

Working a stylistic range from moody introspection to formal elegance, Miss Rhys has us traveling under Antoinette's skin. It is an eerie and memorable trip.

New York Times
“The novel is a triumph of atmosphere—of what one is tempted to call Caribbean Gothic atmosphere. . . . It has an almost hallucinatory quality.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568497297
  • Publisher: Buccaneer Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Rhys is the author of Wide Sargasso Sea and other novels.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 34 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(12)

4 Star

(7)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(7)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2012

    Bought this for my Nook but received the study guide instead. B

    Bought this for my Nook but received the study guide instead. B & N needs to FIX this incorrect listing!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 28, 2011

    Not what bn advertised

    After purchasing what I thought was the nook book, I found that instead it was a study guide. Highly disappointed. Can't believe I am feeling ripped off by BN.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Wide Sargasso Sea tells the story of the life Bertha led before

    Wide Sargasso Sea tells the story of the life Bertha led before she married Rochester and went crazy and was kept in the attic. The entire story reads very much like stream of consciousness writing and is difficult to get into if you don't enjoy that type of genre. The switching narrators also makes the book difficult to follow, especially since the third section's narrator seems to switch around at random. Personally, I was very interested in reading the book and excited to see what Bertha's life was like before Thornfield, and I was severally disappointed with this novel. While Bertha's childhood explains her eventual desent into madness and the first section of the book is easy to enjoy, the remaining two sections, one of which is told from her husband's point of view, seem to blame Bertha and her mother for her condition. The unnamed male character spends more time running around on the island, drinking and making up excuses for not making his wife happy than he does actually trying to make his wife happy and make the marriage work.
    I will say this though, after reading this book, I have a hard time calling Bertha by the name Bertha. I'd rather call her Antoinette because Bertha is the name that her husband gave her as a means of controlling her and making her into something she wasn't and couldn't be. The fact that the unnamed male character gives her a new name could also be one of the many things that forced her into madness, but because of the biased narrators, we'll never really know for sure.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Complicated and gloomy

    This book is one of those books it is hard to write a review for. I didn't hate it but I didn't love it either. The only emotion it left me with was one of sadness.

    The language of the writing is twisted and very rarely uses proper english. There is never a complete sentence. Or something resembling understandable grammer. While this adds to the exotic setting of the book it distracts the reader and makes it harder to understand.

    Another thing is the book switched between the views of Mr Rochester and Antionette (Bertha). Which makes for a good plot but I was often confused which once was currently narrating.

    The relationship between Antionette and Rochester was tumultous, twisted and a little bizare. The book is never graphic or explicit in actuallity. This book was supposed to create sympathy and udnerstanding for Bertha Rochester the famed mad woman in the attic in Jane Eyre. It did not produce as much as I had hoped. I felt anger at her and Mr Rochester and a surpising amound of pity.

    It felt as though the book lacked something. I can't quite put my finger on it but something was lacking. Perhaps that is because it leaves the reader with the feeling of complete emptiness.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 23, 2011

    Great follow-up to Jane Eyre -

    As a lit lover, i was fairly skeptical of this book at first. After reading the classic "Jane Eyre" I wasn't sure how the author would make me feel any sympathy for the "mad woman in the attic," Bertha. Jean Rhys, however, took an otherwise one-sided character from the classic novel "Jane Eyre" and gave her a life. This novel begins with a young Antoinette (later Bertha), living happily in the West Indies with her family and many native servants. Soon the innocent young girl's life is turned upside down with the uprising of the servants, the death of her brother and mother, and being sent to a convent school by her step father whose visits are few and far between. Once Antoinette has finally become used to her life at the convent school, another drastic change is made to her life: Her step father, Mr. Mason, and her step brother have set up a marriage for the beautiful, eligible Antoinette. The man she is to marry remains nameless throughout the novel, but if the reader is familiar with "Jane Eyre", they will surely recognize the man. After their marriage Antoinette is plagued by doubt of whether her husbands love is true, while her husband is worrying about whether his wife is sane or mad. When the man receives a letter from a distant relative of Antoinette, his fears are realized and he begins to deny Antoinette her identity by calling her Bertha, rather than her beautiful name. Upon their return to England, the nameless man keeps Antoinette, now Bertha, locked in a room in the attic of his large home. The ending of this novel is similar to that of "Jane Eyre," but rather than feel sympathy for Jane and Rochester because of the morbid actions of the "mad woman in the attic," the reader has a new set of feelings inflicted by the tormented character of Antoinette. This novel is a great follow up to "Jane Eyre," especially for those who are curious about how Bertha became the "mad woman in the attic."

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Metaphor for colonialism

    Mr. Rochester and Antoinette's relationship is symbolic of colonialism in the Caribbean. Rochester represents England while Antoinette represents the Caribbean who he colonizes and ultimately takes over, uses and exploits her and at the end, he discards her. He tries to take away her identity by changing her name to one that she vehemently rejects. This is indicative of the renaming of slaves by slave owners. Antoinette does her best not to be deprived of probably the only thing she owns by resisting this: ¿Bertha is not my name. You are trying to make me into someone else, calling me by another name. I know that is obeah too.¿ Rochester uses his power over Antoinette as husband, man and Master. He attempts through emotional means, but in vain to change the Caribbean Creole Antoinette into the English Bertha. <BR/><BR/>The relationship between Annette and Mr. Mason is a foreshadowing of the events in Antoinette¿s future. Mr. Mason was captivated by Annette¿s beauty and like Rochester he did not take the time to know his wife¿s inner beauty. He does not listen to his wife¿s opinions concerning slave revolt, showing his authoritative English nature, where he believes in white superiority. He believes that the slaves are like harmless children, but is proven wrong when Coulibri Estate is set on fire. Due to his ignorance, Pierre, Annette¿s son who is mentally and physically disabled dies. This sends an already emotionally unstable woman, insane. Mr. Mason abandons all responsibility of Annette and Antoinette after the fire and sends her (Annette) to live with a black couple who allegedly humiliate and abuse her emotionally. Rhys shows the vulnerability of women in this novel and their naive emotional and physical dependence on men.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2014

    Brilliant is not enough

    This is a staggeringly great book. It makes me want to cry out "NO" as if one could stop a story.

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  • Posted November 25, 2012

    Yep. It's mislabeled for Nook. Wasted money.

    Yep. It's mislabeled for Nook. Wasted money.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2010

    Chilling

    To preface, I tend to judge a bookstore's quality on whether or not they stock anything by Jean Rhys, a complicated, compelling writer. This book does benefit from a good grasp of Jane Eyre, but its depiction of misperception, intolerance, and anxiety leading to madness is truly eerie. The story will stay with you, and as a "prequel" to the original Bronte, will forever change your reading of that book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An excellent read

    If you've read and loved Jane Eyre, this novel is a must-read. If you haven't, you'll still find Wide Sargasso Sea a fine read. Original, beautifully written, and wonderfully sensual, this book belongs in your permanent library.

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  • Posted March 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Loved it!

    I recently finished reading Jane Eyre and while doing more research about the story online, discovered this book. The back story involving the first Mrs. Rochester was too intriguing to pass up. There are parts of this book that are a little difficult to follow, but overall, it was a great story. Where Jane Eyre left the reader thinking the worst of "Bertha" Rochester, this novel created a much more sympathetic character out of her, while not tarnishing Mr. Rochester for lovers of the original book. Ms. Rhys vividly describes the world of the West Indies and the sharp contrast between that and the world of England. I would recommend this book to anyone. However, even though it is, essentially, a prologue to Jane Eyre, it should not be read first. I think that knowing this story ahead of time, would make the drama in Charlotte Bronte's book less intense. It would negate the gothic appeal of Jane Eyre. I understand their is another book, The Eyre Affair, while not related to the story, it is supposed to be very good for fans of both these novels. As I haven't yet read it myself, I hesitate to list it as an "I also recommend." I enjoyed Wide Sargasso Sea and would suggest it to any fan of Jane Eyre who has more questions about the first Mrs. Rochester.

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  • Posted March 11, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This book was all right.

    I was required to read this book for my Literature class after I read Jane Eyre. To say the least, it was very interesting and captivating. It was interesting to see how this author portrayed the previous life of Mr. Rochester and Bertha. I really thoguht it was cool. However, the book can be a little boring sometimes and downright weird. Nevertheless, it had a lot of symbolism, similies, metaphors, good choice of diction, and big-time foreshadowing. In order to read this book I recommend that you read Jane Eyre first, just so that you do not get lost with the story line. You already know the outcome of the characters, because the book Jane Eyre tells you, but its intersting to see how the characters got to where they did in the book Jane Eyre. So, yes, I definitely recommend this book if you are into knowning more about Jane Eyre and its characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2008

    Not as good as Jane Eyre

    'Wide Sargasso Sea' is an admirable attempt to shed light on the ill-fated wife of Mr. Rochester from 'Jane Eyre,' but it somehow doesn't capture the literary depth in which Brontë delivered in her novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2007

    Saffron Scented Pages!

    Needless to say the text speaks for itself. You will love it or you will misunderstand it. The reason for this review is that this particular edition of The Wide Sargasso sea has SAFFRON SCENTED PAGES! I swear. If you've read the book then you understand the ingenuity and strange kindness the publishers have bestowed upon Sargasso lovers. Really though, pick up a copy and smell for yourself!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2007

    A great book that gives in depth view into the mind of 'Bertha'.

    Even thought I didn¿t enjoy the film too much the book itself is phenomenal. The story of Bertha, the first Mrs. Rochester, 'Wide Sargasso Sea' is a not only a brilliant deconstruction of Charlotte Bront¿s legacy, but is also a damning history of colonialism in the West Indies. This novel addresses the issue of race and culture, but it also addresses the inner thought processes of a woman confronted with cultural chaos between the Creole, Jamaican, and British in the Caribbean. Told from different points of view, the text is a tapestry weaving Bertha's story with Edward Rochester's early life. Like the seaweed the book is named for, the structure floats in and out of artistic consciousness as though on a sea of many unwritten stories. Although some might argue that 'Wide Sargasso Sea,' detracts from 'Jane Eyre,' I feel that Jean Rhys gives us a fuller understanding about the cultural historiography that produces 'great literature.' As a champion for the silenced voices, Charlotte Bront herself was all too aware of societies' injustices. While today, 'Jane Eyre' is generally accepted as a tract on social class, feminism, and conscious production of art, 150 years ago, Bront was lambasted by contemporary critics as unchristian, seditious and a poor writer. I can not help but think Bront, as social critic, would have cheered the publication of 'Wide Sargasso Sea.' A wonderful book for anyone studying Latin America or the Caribbean.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2006

    Dripping with atmosphere

    The carribean atmosphere allows you to saunter through the book. The premise of describing the first wife of Mr. Rochester of Jane Eyer is what initially caught my interest. This book stands completely on its own, and does not require reading Jane Eyer at all. The style is mesmerizing and calming.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2006

    Not for everyone

    If you read Jane Eyre, loved Jane Eyre, and are the kind of person who returns to it every few years, I wouldn't recommend this title. Mr. Rochester may not have been an ideal hero, but he is who Charlotte Bronte intended. She WANTED a mad-woman in the attic at Thornfield Hall, and Bronte was very much a feminist-I don't think it's necessary to villify the man in modern literature. I'm not a big fan of authors who take a well-loved classic and do with it what they will. I think it's a shame.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2006

    Tragic Masterpiece

    This is an enlightening version of the 'mad woman' locked up in Mr. Rochester's mansion in England. Despite having a strong mentor in her nanny, Antoinette Cosway doesn't know how to save herself. Society isn't set up to give women of her generation much power or independence. She didn't have much of a father or mother figure, and only Christophene seems willing to truly protect her. In Rhys' eloquent style of writing, we are smoothly transported into the atmosphere of Jamaica after the 1830's. Though Antoinette is clearly a victim, I found Christophene's character refreshing and empowered. She's a former slave who is feared because of her knowledge of 'Obeah'. She isn't afraid to stand up to Antoinette's white husband, and comes close to helping the young woman gain freedom from him. This is a tragic masterpiece that will be loved for years to come. Chrissy K. McVay author of 'Souls of the North Wind'

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2005

    A VOODOO PRIESTESS, POLITICAL UPHEAVAL AND A MAN WHO DOESN'T LOVE HER

    After years of reading and re-reading JANE EYRE in high school and college, I discovered that there was a companion novel of sorts--WIDE SARGASSO SEA by Jean Rhys. Born on a Caribbean island, Jean Rhys emerged from years of isolation as a writer with this stunningly beautiful, well-crafted, and haunting novel. WIDE SARGASSO SEA is the mesmerizing story of a young mixed-up Creole woman named Antoinette. From childhood, she is surrounded by a voodoo priestess, spirits, and political upheaval. That's enough to disorient anyone. She meets Rochester, a man she believes she loves. She tries everything to gain and hold onto his love. 21st Century women have the opportunities of going to college or pursuing a career. For a 19th Century woman like Antoinette, she must marry or be doomed. In Antoinette's case, she's doomed anyway. Once she marries, Rochester has complete control of her money and convinces everyone she is crazy. As I read WSS, I kept thinking, 'she's not crazy.' I'm convinced Rochester was not the Romantic hero Charlotte Bronte portrayed him to be. He was a money-grubbing cad. (Today Antoinette would have gotten a pre-nup.) Thanks to Jean Rhys for giving us this perceptive novel and letting us decide for ourselves. WIDE SARGASSO SEA is, in my opinion, Jean Rhys' best novel. ( As summer approaches, now's a perfect time to read it! Perfect for a book club as well.)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2003

    madness?

    For those who live in a wonderful society full of logical and sane pursuits, how can you possibly understand the steps to the darkness and the madness one can be slowly drowning in? Those who have felt the other side of life, the echos inside themselves , will knowingly nod at Antoinette's tragedy and Rochester's skeletons in the closet. Rhys does not pollute Rochester but clarify his character as a man , and in Jane Eyre, a man who has tried to murder that side of him , that monster, for her sake.Fascinatng for those who understand madness, I'm sure those who have at times felt themselves suffocating by aura shrouding themselves will understand this beautiful book.

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