Diane Middlebrook gives a balanced account of the marriage between famous poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. While Hughes was the more successful writer during Plath's lifetime, he and his work have been overshadowed by the rumors that grew out of Plath's suicide.
The book begins with a look at Hughes and Plath's first meeting and their romance in Cambridge, England. Middlebrook moves on to a detailed account of the family and landscape that shaped Hughes as a writer and a person. The portions that describe the Hughes-Plath marriage focus on the influences the pair had over each other as writers, and recount their major experiences during their seven-year marriage, including their travels, publications, friendships, and the births of their children.
Later portions of the book describe Hughes' life after his separation from Plath and her subsequent suicide. Middlebrook looks into Hughes' personal life, including his other romantic/marital relationships, while observing the ways in which Hughes was increasingly vilified by Plath fans. The book concludes with her examination of Hughes' philosophy and of his poetry collection, "Birthday Letters," which was published just before his death and is made up of poems to, for, and about Sylvia.
The review of this Book prepared by Jacqueline West