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The Poets' Wives by David Park
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The Poets' Wives

by David Park

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found this a pretty joyless book. While some deeply moving sections later in the book redemed it somewhat can't say I liked this book. The only message I got from it was stay away from poets. Life is too short. ( )
  njgriffin | Jan 2, 2017 |
The first part is narrated by the wife of William Blake. Many thought Blake was a mad man and her job was to support him and cajole him out of his maudlin moods. To go along when he was manic, and to color his prints for his various poems and projects. This section was written in a very surreal type of narration, first person and Was not my favorite. What was interesting is that her whole world was William, when he was not present she felt she was incomplete.

The second section is the Russian poet Osip, who was imprisoned during Stalin's dictatorship, for not conforming and writing what he actually felt. This was also first person but I felt it gave a pretty good glimpse of what it was like for some during this time period. Again her job was to support her husband and at times she actually felt like his mother.

The third section, though fictional, was the most interesting, set in Ireland. It was interesting to see the diff3rent roles the wives played, though in all many things were overlooked in the name of "genius."

I loved looking up the poems as they were mentioned, but also think that th3 first p3rson narrative did this book no favors. The third section probable has the most depth but my favorite was the second. ( )
  Beamis12 | Mar 9, 2014 |
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"What does it mean to be a poet's wife, his muse and lover, there for the heights of inspiration and the quotidian of the day-to-day, and oftentimes, too, the drudgery of being in a supporting role to "the great man"? In this exquisite and sensitive new novel, David Park explores this complicated relationship through three luminous characters: Catherine Blake, wife of William Blake, nineteenth-century poet, painter, and engraver; Nadezhda Mandelstam, whose husband, Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, died in a transit camp en route to Siberia during Stalin's rule; and Lydia, the wife of a fictional contemporary Irish poet, who looks back on her husband's life in the days just after his death. All three women deal with their husband's fame or notoriety, taking seriously their commitment to the men they married and to assisting with and preserving their work. And this despite infidelities, despite a single-mindedness at the expense of others, and despite hardship sometimes beyond comprehension. Set across continents and centuries, under wildly different circumstances, these three women exist as a testament to love, to relationship despite the odds, and to art. Deeply insightful and beautifully wrought, The Poets' Wives is David Park at his best--a novelist who finds dignity and grace away from the spotlight, and who reminds us that art has the power to capture even the quietest of voices" --… (more)

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