Saturday, November 22, 2008

Review: Wide Sargasso Sea

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.


If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


  1. I have a copy of this in my library, unread as yet. Interesting review. :)

  2. Yes, I really don't know if I love the book or hate it. I can tell you that I liked the book about 100times more than the movie. Talk about a snooze!

  3. As ambivalent as you claim to be, I'm quite intrigued by this book now. Thank you for this review.

  4. You are so right on. I also liked it, but didn't really like-like it. Not one of the more memorable on the list, but not as bad as The Magus. :)

  5. I have it (actually have had it for a long, long time), but every time I pick it up and kind of thumb through it I find myself placing it back on the shelf. Somehow your great review seems to validate my intuition. I must read it though-- Some day...

  6. RR -- Sorry for the really tardy reply. Lots of people like this one, so don't go by me.

    SocrMom78 -- Another late response. Sorry. I for sure liked this better than The Magus, but then, that describes every other book I have ever read. :)

    Christopher -- I think some books are meant to moulder on our TBR shelves. I have many waiting for "someday."


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