Monday, May 18, 2009

Re-Run of the Day: Wide Sargasso Sea

While in Boston for my step daughter's graduation from medical school, I am re-running a couple of earlier reviews. This one was first posted on November 22, 2008. I am perfectly ambivalent about Wide Sargasso Sea. Every reaction I had to the book is balanced by its opposite reaction: • The moody, languid prose captured the tropical setting; I longed for a more direct narrative. • The switches in perspective deepened the relationships among the characters; it was frustratingly difficult to track who was saying what and when they were saying it. • The themes of madness, alcoholism, cruelty, and love were fascinating; the characters were all horrible and it was awful to watch them destroy themselves and each other. • The connection between the heroine and the insane wife in Jane Eyre is an inspired literary device; the tie-in with Jane Eyre is a manipulative gimmick. See what I mean? Everything I like about the book, I dislike about the book. Equipoise. But it made it to both the Modern Library and Radcliffe lists of best novels of the 20th century, so the half of me that disliked the book is at least pleased to have accomplished two tasks.


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