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Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Each month our staff picks additional recommendations based on our Dandy Roll Book Club pick. We're recommending Wide Sargasso Sea for those of our members who want to read a retelling of a class from a second perspective based on our February pick, Pride by Ibi Zoboi.

Lovers of classics and skeptics of Jane Eyre will delight in Rhys' extension of Bronte's tale of betrayal and one woman's descent into madness. Rhys combines cultural identity, gender roles, and social expectations of the Bronte sisters' era in order to simultaneously build the story up and condemn its characters. Wide Sargasso Sea will have your mind--and your heart--churning until the very last page.

Wide Sargasso Sea, a masterpiece of modern fiction, was Jean Rhys’s return to the literary center stage. She had a startling early career and was known for her extraordinary prose and haunting women characters. With Wide Sargasso Sea, her last and best-selling novel, she ingeniously brings into light one of fiction’s most fascinating characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.

A new introduction by the award-winning Edwidge Danticat, author most recently of Claire of the Sea Light, expresses the enduring importance of this work. Drawing on her own Caribbean background, she illuminates the setting’s impact on Rhys and her astonishing work.

  • 176 pages
  • Paperback
  • W. W. Norton & Company, 2016