Saturday, September 19, 2015

Shelf Candy Saturday # 161: Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, if available,
on their very talented creators!

Here's my choice for this week!

Wide Sargasso Sea
Jean Rhys
Trade Paperback, 174 pages
W.W. Norton & Company 
August 17,1992
Classics,Feminism, Historical Fiction, 
Literary Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

This is a cover that immediately catches the eye, with the lush, tropical landscape surrounding the main character, who stares out at the viewer in a rather poignant manner.

Everything depicted on the cover -- the young woman lying on what is apparently grass, the surrounding flowers and other vegetation -- pulls the potential reader into the cover. At the same time, there is a surreal feeling about this cover.

All the plants and surrounding vegetation seem to cradle the young woman as she passively lies there, as if accepting her fate. The sadness in her eyes is haunting. She wishes to be understood, to be loved. She is neither understood, nor loved. 

Far off in the distance, a mansion burns. The young woman seems to be unaware of this; her body is turned away from that distant scene. Instead, she continues to gaze at the viewer, pleading with her eyes..... She is really more a child than a young woman. Her eyes give her away, for the look in them is that of a child suffering under an intolerable oppression.

I have been reading this novel (for the moment, it's on hold, however), and I can see that the artist has perfectly captured the anguish felt by its main female character, who is Edward Rochester's first wife, the madwoman in the attic, from the classic, Jane Eyre.

This is a very lyrical and beautiful cover. All of its elements are stylized, in the manner of artists that paint in a primitive style, and yet, this cover shows a sophistication that's really beyond any primitive style.

I especially love the flowers, each one boldly and delicately detailed. I love how they seem to attempt to shelter the young woman, to protect her, and somehow soothe away her pain....

I must honestly say that I don't like the font used for the title and author's name. Nor do I like its color. I really think a more ornate, more 'feminine' font and color would have been better.

This brilliant cover illustration was done by French illustrator Pierre Mornet, who was born in Paris in 1972. I love the flowing lines, the large, colored shapes. I can see the influences of French artists Henri Rousseau and Paul Gauguin in his work, together with his own original style. I want to see more of his art!

This is definitely one of the most beautiful covers I've ever seen (except for that font)! It's the type of cover I'd love to frame as a poster and hang in my home!

Online Links

What do you think of this 
week's cover?
Would it entice you to buy
this book and read it?


  1. This is really a striking cover.

    The primitivism creates an odd contrast with the feeling that something is going very wrong in it.

    This does raise a question for me. I know something about the plot and charters in this book. Obviously the cover is clearly reflective of them. Knowing these details is playing a big factor in my reaction. I wonder how I would have reacted differently had I not known these details.

  2. I look at that cover and think it belongs in a gallery. I would wonder too if she's dying or hiding from whoever burned the house. I keep thinking of an image of Ophelia floating in a creek I saw once. I've never seen this book bbgore, so i have no idea whats it aboyt.

  3. Hey, Brian!

    This is indeed a very striking cover, and now this artist is one of my favorite cover illustrators! I need to see if he's done any other covers.

    I think that the burning mansion, as well as that haunted look in the young woman's eyes, are a big hint that something is definitely wrong here. Yet, perhaps you would indeed have reacted differently, had you not known something about the plot.

    Thanks for visiting and commenting!! : )

  4. Hi, Verushka!

    Oh, it DEFINITELY belongs in a gallery! This artist is more than an illustrator; I consider his work to be in the category of fine art.

    What an interesting parallel you've drawn between this cover and the image of Ophelia floating in a creek! You're absolutely right! The painting you're referring to is by Sir John Everett Millais. He was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

    Ophelia, as we know from Shakespeare's "Hamlet", became insane, so the comparison of the young woman on this cover with Ophelia is great. This girl, too, became insane. Perhaps Mornet had Ophelia in mind when he created this cover.

    Gee, I don't know how I didn't pick up on this.....Great insight!

    This is not a YA novel, but I just LOVE that cover, so I had to feature it! The novel is about what happens to Bertha Mason, the madwoman in the attic from "Jane Eyre". She was Mr. Rochester's first wife, so this novel is a kind of prequel to "Jane Eyre", except that it was written by a 20th-century author.

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting!! : )


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