Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

“If I was bound for hell, let it be hell. No more false heavens. No more damned magic. You hate me and I hate you. We’ll see who hates best. But first, first I will destroy your hatred. Now. My hate is colder, stronger, and you’ll have no hate to warm yourself. You will have nothing.”

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Wide Sargossa Sea Image

I sat down to read a chapter of this book and wound up reading the entirety in one sitting. I do not do that often, and even less frequently with works of literature. It’s short, beautifully written and characterized, and has a wonderful flow and pacing. There’s a whole pile of things I could focus on in it.

What I was most surprised by, though, is how much it parallels current fanfiction tropes and structure. We don’t have to argue over whether this book is fanfiction, right? Sure, it’s a feminist deconstruction of Jane Eyre, and the author is clearly trying to deal with some of the more problematic elements of that novel (most especially the misogynistic bits and characters), but there’s still a definite undertone of affection for the source material.

Let’s go over some of the basics of a good fanfic that Wide Sargasso Sea possesses:
1. Angst: Boy howdy does this book revel in the angst. Between Antoinette and Rochester, who both equally feel themselves victimized by the world, we’re pretty much swimming in deep angry hate-fire and sadness and self-loathing. I would argue that Antoinette’s is much more justified than Rochester’s, but that’s obvious, right?
2. Exploration of a relationship from the source material: In this case, a canon relationship, although fanfic is usually a made-up, or “fanon,” ship. We only get the essentials of Rochester and Antoinette’s relationship in Jane Eyre (she was hot and rich and he was dumb and young and they got married and then hated each other), but this novel explores much more deeply their feelings for each other (which are very strong even when they’re not love), how they treat each other and manipulate each other and try to control the other. IT’S REALLY FASCINATING AND I LOVE IT.
3. Expanding on backstory for canonical characters: See also above. But learning about Antoinette’s family history (especially in regards to slavery and the culture clashes on the island) and especially about her mother brought a whole new level to Jane Eyre. Antoinette’s mom’s story actually made me more upset than Antoinette’s, and that’s saying something. I had a lot of feels.
4. Gives you feels: See 1-3.
5. Ignores the primary, heterosexual relationship of the source material: This book doesn’t care a whit for Jane. Granted, Jane is present only in tiny bits of this book, but she isn’t even treated as a real obstacle for Antoinette. Rochester is her enemy, and Jane’s experiences are trivial.
6. Populates background with supporting Original Characters: SEE: Christophine, who is wonderful and scary and absorbing and I could write a whole book about her. [Side note: Christophine functions in the novel as a critical fan of Jane Eyre, both the book and the character. She tries to fix the narrative and Antoinette’s fate even while participating in it.]
7. Critiques the original characters/source material while still showing their good parts and highlighting why they’ve lasted: See above points about Jane and Jane Eyre. Wide Sargasso Sea is more diversely-casted and gives more agency to its female characters, even while making the original characters like Jane, Rochester, and “Bertha” even more complex, while pointing back to their fundamental traits and the core story that has captivated readers for so long.


Dewey’s Readathon – Oct. 2014

I’m once again participating in Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon! I love this thing! For most updates, follow my Twitter and Instagram @bahnree.

Here’s my stack:


My #readathon pile keeps growing I have a problem

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Opening Meme
1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Eugene, Oregon. IT’S RAINING.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede. I’ve heard a lot about it, and stubborn princesses and dragons are kinda my THING.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? ……coffee? Is coffee a snack? Drinkable snacks are best.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’ve got an English degree but I’m working in a science lab which I find endlessly hilarious. I’m a crazy dog lady.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I planned out my reads more carefully this time and especially planned reading order – it’s important to save fun books for later when I’m tired.


5-6 AM: Dozed a little and read some of Dealing With Dragons. It’s very funny so far! I’m going to try to save it for later, though.

6-7 AM: Drank coffee (coffee is just, just, the best, amirite) and read comics like Sandman: The Dream Hunters and Cartozia Tales. Both of those titles were fabulous!

7-8 AM: Read Dune. This book is even better and more complex than I remembered. It shows its age a little, though.

8-10 AM: Read Washington Square. I love Henry James and this book was no exception. Fantastic female characters – all of the males in this book are really distasteful, haha!

10-11 AM: Pancake breakfast, mini-challenges, + more Cartozia Tales, which are delightful.

11-12 PM: Finished Washington Square! A+, 5/5!

12-3 PM: Read a bunch of Dune. This book is slow-going.

3-4 PM: Continued with Dealing with Dragons and read some more comics.

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede.
2. How many books have you read so far? 1 book, 200 pages of a 2nd, 100 pages of a 3rd.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Erased by Jennifer Rush.
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Honestly I’m just having a hard time concentrating for longer than 15 minutes, haha. But I read comics when I’m tired of reading.
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? So many awesome mini-challenges! I’ve been really enjoying them and participating in most.

4 PM-3 AM: Read lots of comics, finished Dealing with Dragons, read more Dune, and read some of Erased by Jennifer Rush.

3 AM-5 AM: Fell asleep. CURSES. I don’t think I’ve ever made it past 3 AM.


  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Everything after midnight.
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Some books that have kept me up at night: Dust by Elizabeth Bear, And Only To Deceive by Tasha Alexander, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, pretty much any book by Lois McMaster Bujold
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Nope! It was awesome, honestly, especially cheerers and mini-challenges.
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? EVERYTHING?
  5. How many books did you read? 2 1/2 plus five million comic issues.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Dealing with Dragons by Patricia Wrede, Dune by Frank Herbert, Washington Square by Henry James, lots of Cartozia Tales, Avengers, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Aquaman, Batwoman
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? Cartozia Tales
  8. Which did you enjoy least? I really liked all of them, but maybe Dune, since I’ve read it before?
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? CHREAD
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Very likely, haha! I usually end up participating in October and skipping April though, April is always busy….Just a reader.


Coffee or Tea


Weird Reading Position

Name Your Readathon

Book Staging

Book Tower

Show It Off

Color Cover

Pet Parade