Mad Girl's Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted

Andrew Wilson. Scribner, $30 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4767-1031-0
To curtail fears that this latest Plath biography forges already blatant connections between her work and her torrid inner life or her relationship with Ted Hughes, be assured, it is something altogether new. Wilson (Beautiful Shadow) fulfills his title's promise, divulging her impressive string of romances, love-hate relationship with her mother, and "vampiric" interactions with those close to her, among other atypical and unconventional issues. While the significance of some seemingly frivolous details may appear momentous, it's refreshing that Wilson does not make Plath's suicide his focus, just as he examines her earlier, formative publications in magazines such Seventeen, Mademoiselle, and Ladies Home Journal as often—if not more so—as he does her better known work. This is a rare biography whose narrative style is artful enough that its appeal will range from those who're utterly unfamiliar with Plath's work to those who've inundated themselves in it. Wilson incorporates previously unpublished correspondence, interviews, and creative work to bring to life a rarely illuminated time within a great mind. As he follows Plath in her search for identity and struggle with a threatening darkness, he casts her not as he would have her, but as she was. Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander (UK) (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 02/11/2013
Release date: 02/01/2013
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