I love Jean Rhys' books. They are wistful, sad, and reflective accounts of women's lives lived on the fringes of society. Her female characters don't do what women are supposed to do; they do the opposite, and they pay dearly for it. They are not destitute or homeless, but they are often desperate for male attention and for the money and gifts that men can lavish on them. They don't seem to be able to exist apart from men. Perhaps they are much like Jean Rhys herself, who struggled with alcoholism and an unhealthy dependency on men for most of her life. Wide Sargasso Sea is really a prequel to the novel Jane Eyre; it imagines the life of Mr. Rochester's first wife--the crazy wife from the West Indies who lived locked up in the attic. It tells the story of how she might have gotten there, and in doing so, it makes us empathize with a woman whose life was already over by the time Jane Eyre finally met her.