Wide Sargasso Sea
by Jean Rhys
1966, 192 pp.
The Wide Sargasso Sea is listed in the top 100 novels by the Modern Library. I wouldn't go that far, but I did enjoy it. A warning though--some fans of Jane Eyre may hate it. Most members of my face to face book group felt like it ruined their idea of Mr. Rochester's character. I felt the same way when I read March by Geraldine Brooks earlier this year. Little Women is a favorite book of mine, and I didn't like how Mr. and Mrs. March were portrayed in Brooks' story at all.
However, in this book, we learn how Mr. Rochester became the dark, brooding figure in Jane Eyre. We not only feel sorry for him, though, we also feel sorry for Bertha as well. At least I did. We learn how and why she had a mental breakdown. We learn that both she and Mr. Rochester are victims. While I won't go so far as to integrate this story into my feelings about and fondness for Jane Eyre, I am able to take this as a separate story altogether and appreciate it.