Middlebrook presents a portrait of Hughes as a man, as a poet, and as a husband haunted, and nourished, his entire life by the aftermath of his first marriage. How marriages fail and how men fail in marriages is one of the book's central themes.
©2003 Diane Middlebrook; (P)2003 Blackstone Audiobooks
"Middlebrook's [book] is sure to be the gold standard. Astutely reasoned, fluidly written, and developed with psychological acuity, the work is a sympathetically balanced assessment of two lives that flamed brightly with the incandescent fire of creative genius." (Publishers Weekly)
"The most balanced, most literary and interpretatively astute, and best-written analysis yet of the saga of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes." (Booklist)
"Sympathetic but resolutely unsentimental....intelligent, sensitive, at times harrowing." (Joyce Carol Oates, Washington Post Book World)
This is a good book, well-presented and structured in general and with occasional flashes of true insight into this tragic story. My criticisms are minimal: In terms of the audio format one is the mispronunciation of French words by the narrator which I felt was easily avoidable and therefore inexcusable. Another the fact that the chapters seem to be made up of titled paragraphs. The narrator reads these titles immediately after the end of the previous paragraph with a long pause after the title instead of a short pause on either side. This can be somewhat disconcerting. In terms of the writing itself: Middlebrook has chosen to present an analytical account in more or less choronolgical order, with frequent references to previous and future events that are relevant. This makes the book a little jumpy and disjointed and results in a sometimes repetitive narrative. While it is possible to skip re-used passages when reading one is forced to suffer through them when listening. Also, the author would do well to educate herself on the difference between England and Great Britain; Ted Hughes was the Poet Laureate of the latter and not the former. Aside from a certain coldness to the intensely human story she is telling, Middlebrook does a superb job. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Plath and Hughes drama; though I do not know how satisfying brief quotes in the text would be to someone who had not read Plath's journals and poetry already. The story itself cannot be anything but fascinating.
This is a really interesting biography. If you're into Plath then this is a great listen. A little on the long side, but it does go into depth about the relationship between Hughes and Plath without a great deal of bias. This book shares a side of Plath not seen in other bios. Recommended.
After listening to the audio I would enjoy the print version as well
The poetry of Sylvia Plath
No but would definitely like to hear more
The sadness of Plath
After listening to this I want to read more of their poetry.
Diane was my English teacher at Stanford. A relentlessly inspiring woman for whom I feel a tremendous debt of gratitude to have been coached by her... and now, to read how cleverly and profoundly she unveils the multifaceted relationship between Plath & Hughes. As an audible book can be ruined by a "not quite right" voice-over reader, this one is very, very good...and easy on the ear. go for it!
This book is a treasure of information about both Plath and Hughes and their famous marriage but it is also a wonderful book to help understand their poetry even more, the backgrounds behind the poems is explained very well and it is a very balanced account of both of their lives, which can be difficult to find with so many anti-Hughes books out there!
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