- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Carroll & Graf; 1st Carroll & Graf Ed edition (December 6, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786718617
- ISBN-13: 978-0786718610
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 59 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Lover of Unreason: Assia Wevill, Sylvia Plath's Rival and Ted Hughes' Doomed Love Hardcover – December 6, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
The "other woman" in the Sylvia Plath–Ted Hughes divorce receives long-delayed consideration in this assiduously researched, compulsively readable biography, where the authors draw on newly revealed primary sources. The life of thrice-married Assia Wevill (1927–1969) makes a fascinating story even before her six-year affair with Hughes and the birth of his (unacknowledged) daughter, Shura. Born in Berlin of a Russian Jewish father and a German Lutheran mother, raised in Tel Aviv, married to a British soldier in order to gain a British passport, Assia was, as the authors demonstrate, a smoldering femme fatale, albeit highly intelligent, witty and talented. While Koren and Negev (In Our Hearts We Were Giants: The Remarkable Story of the Lilliput Troupe) don't whitewash Assia's volatile, self-absorbed personality or her serial adulteries, they do contradict the widespread impression that Assia was the initial seducer of Hughes. This will be an important book for Hughes scholars, primarily for the authors' exclusive 1996 interview with the poet, in which he identified the poems he wrote alluding to Assia after her death, which he felt no critic had ever interpreted correctly. Newly revealed letters and interviews reinforce previous accounts of Hughes's sexual attraction and the dedicated philandering that drove two women to suicide. Photos. (Jan. 23)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The adventurous biographical duo Koren and Negev follow their unusual Holocaust tale, In Our Hearts We Were Giants (2004), with the first complete biography of one of literature's most shadowed figures. The tragic story of Sylvia Plath's marriage to Ted Hughes and subsequent suicide has been assiduously analyzed after the story of the second catastrophic relationship in Hughes' life of many love affairs finally emerged. He and Plath broke up for many painful reasons, but the catalyst was the dramatically beautiful Assia Weevil. Little has been widely known about this bright, artistic, magnetically attractive, and, finally, devastated woman of Russian Jewish and German Lutheran blood and numerous entanglements, or the nature of her tumultuous seven-year relationship with Hughes and her influence on his work, or Hughes' feelings toward their daughter. Koren and Negev, privy to previously unavailable sources, sensitively synthesize a cache of volatile information to create a fully dimensional and deeply disconcerting portrait of Weevil, who committed suicide in 1969 in the same manner as Plath but took her young daughter with her. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
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Anyway, Assia Wevill had plenty of flaws - she could be very selfish - but it seems she was born decades before her time. Plath probably was doomed to suicide anyway, but Wevill seemed to have far more potential to live a long life. I have to wonder what would have happened had she stayed with her third husband (another poet, David Wevill, who was the antithesis of Hughes. Hughes prided himself on being a rough lover, and at one point was stringing along at least four women.)
While I do not approve of Assia Wevill's decision to take her and Hughes' four-year-old daughter with her when she killed herself, reading this book helped me understand why she made that choice. Hughes, a talented poet in his own right but apparently a selfish domestic abuser in his private life, also admitted that Wevill's suicide was "preventable." Just really sad.
While this book paints Wevill as far more human than other depictions of her, it is still unnerving to hear how upon learning of Plath's suicide she expressed genuine amazement when a co-worker said, "You must be feeling so bad about this." (Her reply, "Why should I? It has nothing to do with me.") It's also nothing short of creepy to hear how she had no qualms moving into the flat where Plath committed suicide and even lay down on Plath's down bed to recover from an abortion. (The baby was Hughes'.)
Still, the most heartbreaking aspect has to be the brief life of Alexandra "Shura", the daughter Wevill had with Hughes. From the sound of it, Hughes had little to do with the girl and Wevill's decision to take her daughter's life as well as hers will leave even the most jaded reader jilted.
All in a all, a good read about a tragic, doomed love affair that ended worse than most.
I was left feeling surprisingly sorry for A.W., the woman I had always blamed as the catalyst behind the suicide of a remarkable woman, and wound up feeling pity for both of them.
Highly recommended read for fans of Plath.