Summary: Antoinette Cosway, known as Bertha Mason in the novel Jane Eyre, spends her childhood in the Caribbean during a socially tumultuous time. Antoinette is a white Creole meaning some of her ancestors were slaves but her appearance is different from her origins. Her mother is mentally unhealthy, her brother is mentally delayed, and her father is dead. Antoinette narrates the first half of the novel, and then the story shifts and a young English gentleman named Edward Rochester narrates after their marriage. The next half of the novel describes the ups and downs of Antoinette and Rochester’s marriage as well as the factors that led to Antoinette slowly losing her sanity.
Six Word Review: An interesting read with vivid imagery.
I started reading because: I liked Jane Eyre and was interested in getting to know Bertha’s character better.
I would give this book10/10 stars because the motifs, themes, imagery, juxtapositions, and other literary devices are abundant.
I loved that Jean Rhys explored multiple character perspectives. The story is narrated by Antoinette, Rochester, and even briefly by a minor character. I hated that the description of the time at Thornfield was so brief. It makes sense because the author is demonstrating Antoinette’s mental instability, but it still would have been cool to know more about what that time was like for Antoinette.
If Antoinette was in a high school yearbook, she would be voted Most Likely To: Have A Hard Time Fitting In.
Anything else we should know? The movie adaptations are more overly romanticized and don’t provide an accurate portrayal of the author’s intent.