This is Jean Rhys' response to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, in which she imagines the life of Rochester's first wife in the colonies, their failed marriage, and her descent into madness.
Wide Sargasso Sea is a typical post-colonial novel in the sense that it gives voice to those who had none for most of Britain's history. The language used might be surprising at first, simply because it does not seem to be consistent with the one used in Jane Eyre. But once the readers are willing to somewhat ignore this is a prequel, they can only enjoy the beauty of the author's language that is both straightforward and opaque. (As for me, I never really cared for Charlotte Bronte's most famous novel in the first place.)
In fact, at its best, this novel reminded me of the work of my favorite French writer, Marguerite Duras. Not just because of its post-colonial concerns, but also because of the effectiveness of the language.
Above all things, Wide Sargasso Sea is a post-modern novel. As a result, it acknowledges that trauma is too complex to be clearly put into words and that in the attempt to do so there must be a large portion of silence and unknown.
Perhaps the best piece of writing I have read this year.