This slim volume is wrought with life clamouring to get out. Rhys's novel is a prequel to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and is set oceans away in 1930s Jamaica. Centring on Mr. Rochester's first wife, Antoinette, we get a while new perspective on Bronte's novel, like switching on a light in the attic.
I can only describe this book as colourful; the garish colours of the backdrop drip from the page and stick us to the prose. The atmosphere Rhys evokes in this setting is sultry as the hot, thick Jamaican air; the tone is like a silent scream.
And yet it is so very real; the details are intricate and personal, so that we cannot help feeling empathy for this character we have locked away for so long. The very lines of this book act as prison bars that Antoinette is fighting to break out of; and she does. Rhys's character escapes from this novella and stays with us, haunting our reading of Jane Eyre in the future.