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The World's Wife by Carol Ann Duffy

The World's Wife

by Carol Ann Duffy

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Funny, dark, brilliant. Some of them more so than others. I like "Anne Hathaway" the best, probably, but am very fond of "Salome". ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Poems from famous fictional wives....fantastic! ( )
  KimKimpton | Nov 6, 2012 |
One of 2011's World Book Night books. I am not normally a fan of poetry, but I am trying to read all of the 25 books before World Book Night 2012.

Behind every great man, as the old saying goes. Duffy brings us a collection of women, behind the men and well-known in their own right.

Through the different poems, Duffy brings us the many facets of women's lives, their emotions, their fate, and all in different tones. The subversion of familiar tales, such as Medusa and Circe, was both thought-provoking and fun. How could you help but laugh out loud at Mrs. Darwin. There are darker poems too, full of pain and longing, Mrs. Midas was particularly poignant for me.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first Duffy collection, and will look out more of her work. ( )
  soffitta1 | Jan 20, 2012 |
I picked up a free copy of this in New Beacon Books – there was a stack of them left over from World Book Night earlier this year.

It’s a collection of poems all on the same theme of overturning male-centred history, literature and myth, and looking at familiar stories from the neglected wife’s perspective. So, for example, we have Mrs Aesop tiring of her husband’s constant boring fables, and Delilah explaining why she cut off Samson’s hair (he’d complained to her that he didn’t know what it was to be gentle, and so she’d done it to help him change, to take away the pressure of always having to be strong). There are also more modern characters, like Frau Freud, the Kray sisters, and Elvis’s twin sister.

There’s a playful, humorous tone to the poems, and I enjoyed reading them on a quiet afternoon recently in a sun-drenched beer garden. A lot of them had the same basic premise, of a wife wryly mocking her husband’s posturing and self-aggrandisement, and this got a bit repetitive after a while. My favourite poems were those that truly brought a new twist to a familiar story, imputing new and more interesting motives to the characters, as in the Delilah example already mentioned, or my favourite of all, Queen Herod. In this poem, we learn that it wasn’t the King who ordered the killing of all first-born male children after all, but the Queen, who does it to protect her own newborn daughter: “No man, I swore, will make her shed one tear.” I found it a powerful and poignant reworking, and loved the last few lines:

We do our best,
we Queens, we mothers,
mothers of Queens.

We wade through blood
for our sleeping girls.
We have daggers for eyes.

Behind our lullabies,
the hooves of terrible horses
thunder and drum. ( )
  AndrewBlackman | Jul 28, 2011 |
What a brilliant and witty collection that is accessible for all ages. The use of myth and history means most of the names will be at least familiar if not well known to readers. I found some of the ‘wives’ to be hilarious and thoroughly enjoyed Mrs Midas and from Mrs Tiresias. Duffy’s humour is excellent and not a word is wasted. You really get an idea of how the women are thinking by what she was written.

As a student or a teacher there are ample examples of poetic and literary devices that have been used but on this occasion I’m reviewing it solely as a reader of Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry. Well worth the purchase and the read. I bought my copy after hearing her read from it – which added so much to the experience. Fantastic writing and I think it is the best work she has done. ( )
  SmithSJ01 | Mar 17, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 033037222X, Paperback)

That saying? Behind every famous man ...? From Mrs Midas to Queen Kong, from Elvis's twin sister to Pygmalion's bride, they're all here, in Carol Ann Duffy's inspired and inspirational collection, The World's Wife. Witty and thought-provoking, this is a tongue-in-cheek, no-holds-barred look at the real movers and shakers across history, myth and legend. If you have ever wondered, for example, how exactly Darwin came up with his theory of evolution, or what, precisely, Frau Freud thought about her husband -- then this is the book for you, as the wives of the great, the good, the not so good, and the legendary are given a voice in Carol Ann Duffy's sparkling and inventive collection. 'Carol Ann Duffy is a poet of skill, talent and great heart' Erica Wagner 'Duffy takes a cheeky, subversive, no-nonsense swipe with a dish clout at the famous men of history and myth. They don't have a chance in hell of dodging her quick-witted wallop as she relays their stories from their spouse's points of view' The Times 'Poignant, thoughtful, funny, rich and accessible' Ruth Padel, Guardian, Books of the Year

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:11 -0400)

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