Wide Sargasso Sea

Recommendation: Might as well as not, and definitely if you’re more interested in writing style than plot etc

Where to read: Either idly on a park bench or at your desk with a pencil

Read with: Rum….duh**

In brief: Dreamlike, impressionistic prose deployed to convey, albeit hazily, a nightmarish story.

Wide Sargasso Sea is a text which rewards close attention while reading. Doing a close reading will, however, require consciously fighting against the character of the prose. It is at its most disconcerting when dealing with the fine line between sanity and madness and the subjectiveness of both.

A classic post-colonialist work, Rhys takes the madwoman in the attic from Jane Eyre and gives her a story and a voice. If you have an annotated version, read the notes to the text because they’re quite good and useful in unpacking exactly what’s going on. If you haven’t read Jane Eyre, don’t worry about it too much, it’ll hang together on its own.

** although in moderation, considering the treatment of alcoholism and alcohol abuse throughout the novel 

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