Alrighty, Blogger has already eaten this post entirely, so let me reconstruct it if I can...
Anyway, around mid-century the author Jean Rhys, a native of Dominica, was struck by the idea of writing the story of Bertha, Mr. Rochester's mad Creole wife. In 1966, she published Wide Sargasso Sea, a re-imagining of Bertha's back story, which was a critical success and won a major literary prize. It's billed as having an anti-colonialism bent and also as being a feminist narrative, but whatever -- it was a good read. Told from multiple view points, it follows Antoinette Cosway (later Bertha Mason) through an isolated childhood to a quickly arranged marriage with Mr. Rochester, to a passionate newly-wed existence that begins to implode when Mr. Rochester learns some of Bertha's family history. The truth is pretty fluid in the book, so it's hard to know what did and didn't really happen, but I found it engrossing even if I wasn't ready to assign in canonical Jane Eyre status.
I easily found a copy in my library and breezed through it quickly, so if anyone's out and about this week (before we shift to our as-yet-unassigned February read), pick it up and let me know what you think.
While researching movie versions (Netflix has both adaptations, but they're both labeled as being fairly explicit in a way the book is not), I came across the Sock Puppet Theater version. It has little do with the actual plot of the novel, but it's so charming I must share.