24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
A prequel to Jane Eyre telling the story of Mrs Rochester, 8 July 2001
A wonderfully written prequel to Jane Eyre, recounting the story of the mad Mrs Rochester in her native land. It is a highly unusual genre of a novel, where the writer knows that the majority of the audience is fully aware what happens in the novel before they've read it.
Died Hard Charlotte Bronte fans approve of this novel, which shows the completeness with which Jean Rhys is successful in telling the untold story of Bertha (Antoinette as she is in this novel).
The novel is a fusion of opposing forces, and delves into the conflict within Antoinette as she fights the opposing forces in her and Rochester. The forces of black and white (of which she is both and neither)play on Antoinette, as do those of the cold, stark, hardness of Rochester compared to her own passionate warmth, with neither Rochester or Antoinette understanding each other's culture, personality or needs. Rhys wonderfully portrays the opposing worlds of the warm vibrant Caribbean of Antoinette's homeland and the cold, austere England where she finds herself even more a victim.
The major protagonists are both portrayed as victims, one of circumstance and environment and one of arrogance. Our sympathies are forced to lie with Antoinette as she has no control over anything, and in a sense is a pure victim. Whilst Rochester is seen as losing control over his own perceptions, and therefore chooses to believe the rumours, whilst Antoinette is painfully incapable of refuting the rumours.
This is ultimately a satisfying book, giving voice to the mad creature in Jane Eyre.