Today, April 2 in BBC Radio 4:
BBC Radio 4, April 2, 22.45
The Essay, The Book that Changed Me Episode 1 of 5
Afua Hirsch on 'Wide Sargasso Sea'
Journalist and writer Afua Hirsch discusses "Wide Sargasso Sea" by Jean Rhys, the story of the forgotten first wife of Mr Rochester in Charlotte Brontë's novel Jane Eyre. Encountering Rhys's novel aged 14, Hirsch detested her account of a Creole girl growing up in 1830s Jamaica. Re-reading it much later in life, she came to believe that "it is one of the most perfect books ever written in the English language. The sparsity of Rhys's painfully meticulous sentences, which so alienated the teenage me, touches me now - a writer myself - as the work of a genius." The novel helped shape her thinking on Britishness. "Race is everywhere. Its legacy is real and traumatic. You can't opt out of it or - as so many people in contemporary Britain attempt to do - claim not to see it."
Producer Smita Patel
Editor Hugh Levinson.