This was, I think, the saddest book I've ever read.
Ostracization: I do not know what it is like to be the daughter of the only former slave owning family in a village of freed slaves. I do, however, know what it is like to be an extroverted, precocious, 7 year old boy with a thick Long Island accent, who had close friends who were seven year olds, extroverted, precocious, with thick Long Island accents, and be uprooted and be dropped into an elementary school in Midwest. While my exile and pain was much greater than Antoinette's, I thought that Rhys portrayed the emotion very well.
Evil: I also live in a world where the villains are truly evil and go unpunished. This has happened in my own life, which is nothing but an abstraction to you, and it has also happened in the world of celebrities and politicians, who are more real than I am. Rhys got this right as well. There are characters in this book that inspired more hate from me than I've felt for a long time.
I know this is a prequel to Jane Eyre, which I had read in high school, and didn't feel the need to reread it. Nor the desire, frankly. I don't think you need to have any knowledge of Jane Eyre to enjoy this book.
The book isn't just "a downer." It is well written and well constructed. But it is not peppy spring-break reading. I'd recommend you fire up some Leonard Cohen, break up with your significant other, pour some wine, and enjoy this book.
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