Literature · Novels and Novellas

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys | Book Review


Wide Sargasso Sea is a “response” to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. It gives the infamous madwoman, Bertha, in Bronte’s novel a backstory. This is a great idea for a book – despite not appearing in the Bronte’s book very much she has fascinated readers and critics alike. Including me.

Unfortunately, Wide Sargasso Sea proved to be a disappointment.

It’s not that it’s terrible…it’s just not what I wanted it to be. The problem is the book doesn’t feel like a complete work – it’s very incoherent it doesn’t develop the characters enough.

Reading it was like reading a bunch of random sentences mashed together. And I mean, I want Bertha (in Rhys novel she’s originally called Antoinette before being renamed.) to have a well-developed coherent story.

And that’s not what I got. It’s hard to even explain Wide Sargasso Sea completely because it doesn’t even feel complete.

This book is critically acclaimed, but I don’t see why. This is not a book that can function on its own – it can’t separate itself from Jane Eyre and that alone makes me question its greatness. But maybe I’m being too harsh.

Wide Sargasso Sea just isn’t for me and it would be nice if Bertha’s story was told by someone else.



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