Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Wide Sargasso Sea

I love re-tellings of classic stories, especially when they have a different point of view than the original. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books and spoiler alert - crazy Bertha Rochester really needed her story told. Wide Sargasso Sea is told mostly through Anoinette's point of view, growing up in the Caribbean in the years before Rochester comes and sweeps her right up into his attic.

She lives in Jamaica, where she and her family do not fit in with anyone. Her mother's husband is dead and leaves Anoinette , her mother, and her infant brother alone in a mansion. The freed slaves do not respect her family and the white colonials avoid them. Eventually, after another marriage, the house is burnt to the ground and the little brother dies. The mother, who always favored the son over Anoinette, is driven into grief and locked away from society. CAN YOU TASTE THE FORESHADOWING?

"(My father, visitors, horses, feeling safe in bed - all belonged to the past.)"

Antoinette is under constant fear and relentless stress in her young life and is given a brief respite in a convent until her family arranges a marriage for her. We switch to some point of view from Rochester himself, that dreamy hunk of a man. He marries Antoinette because as a second (poor) son, he needs to marry someone with money. However, this is not a great match as we know. Rochester finds out about Antoinette's mental illness background and turns into a giant drunken jerk who for no real explained reason, starts calling his new wife "Bertha". Antoinette, who is so deeply connected to her homeland is dragged away to England and shut out from the world by a man who outright hates her.

"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'd go crazy too.

I found the book a bit confusing at times with the switching of the point of view and was left wanting more from Antoinette and less of Rochester. But the writing style is lovely and I am interested to read some of Rhys other works.

Side note - HAPPY NEW YEAR! Has anyone set any reading goals for this year? I plan on trying for 105 this year. One down and 104 to go! Wheeee!

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