lunabee34: (reading by thelastgoodname)
Wide Sargasso SeaWide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit that I didn't care overly much for the writing style except in Part 3. Bertha's backstory was much sadder and more cruel than I expected it to be. She is the mirror image of Jane--orphaned, abandoned and mistreated by those who should be family, unloved, sent away to school. There's even a Helen in her life, but they don't become friends like Jane and her Helen. I think I find Rhys's Rochester more monstrous than I was expecting because he does actually love Bertha at one point. He falls for her, and then he listens to gossip and he cheats on her. Totally despicable. I was reading this for pleasure and not taking notes or reading methodically and so the dreamy and disjointed quality of the narrative was at times tedious and confusing, again except in the third section where that style of writing worked perfectly for me. Now that I think of it, I didn't mind the style in the first section which was also narrated by Bertha either; it was only really jarring in the second section where Rochester's voice is no different from Bertha's. This is an interesting companion to Jane Eyre, but I don't believe I will feel compelled to re-read any time soon.

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Jane EyreJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this novel, and I love it even better on this reread. One of my favorite novels is Wuthering Heights, and both times I've read Jane Eyre I've been struck by the similarities I see between the sisters' writing (which isn't surprising since they spent so much time writing collaboratively about their imaginary world). Jane Eyre is so modern to me--the first person narrator, the focus on the psychology and motivation of characters, the lack of superfluous description. Dickens writes about orphans and poor people and the disadvantaged, and although I love Dickens, I never once forget that I'm reading a novel written more than a hundred years ago when I read, say, Oliver Twist. When Bronte writes about the same topics in Jane Eyre, they are biting and harrowing and feel contemporary to me in a way that many Victorian novels do not. Wuthering Heights has this modern quality about it as well. The way Jane and Rochester speak to each other--prickly and teasing and sarcastic, one zinger after another--also strikes me as a particularly modern way of writing dialogue. Love this book, love that Jane gets a happy ending, love that she finds a home and a family.

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