Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton

Gail Crowther. Gallery, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982138-39-4
Crowther (The Haunted Reader and Sylvia Plath) places poets Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton side by side in this solid study that illuminates two “hugely ambitious women in a cultural moment that did not know how to deal with ambitious women.” The poets met in 1959 in a workshop offered by Robert Lowell at Boston University and, though rivals, they admired each other’s work. Both were unabashed about sex at a time of strict social mores, had tumultuous marriages, juggled child care and their writing careers, and died by suicide. Crowther also details their differences: while in class “Sexton was often late, all breezy and open, jangling with jewelry,” Plath “was mostly silent and often turned up early”; Sexton was not private with her writing, while Plath “definitely was.” Despite her excellent research, Crowther’s style is sometimes distracting (After Plath discovered her husband was having an affair, the author writes, “It feels like she would have benefited from Sexton’s support,” as she “likely would have done Plath’s hair and makeup and dragged her out to drink too much”). Nevertheless, this insightful account is a slick addition to the body of work on these two influential poets. Agent: Carrie Kania, Conville & Walsh. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 11/05/2020
Release date: 04/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-7971-2056-0
Book - 978-1-9821-3843-1
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