What if you don’t like the main character in a novel?

Can  writers still attract readers if the main character is not admirable?  Can readers enjoy a book in which the protagonist is flawed? A recent podcast from ‘The Bookshelf’ (ABC RN  March 15 2019) addresses this issue. Kate Evans and others review ‘Adèle’ by the French-Moroccan author Leïla Slimani, There’s a lot not to like…

How I Wrote ‘Capriccio: A Novel’

THE WRITING OF CAPRICCIO I have written three completely different versions of this novel, over fifteen years, each version entailing many drafts. The first novel was called simply ‘Assia’, and was based on what little I knew of her life. Most of my information came from scholarly works on Hughes or Plath, plus a study…

Assia and Yehuda

Few people realise that Assia Gutmann Wevill was a poet in her own right, and also a talented translator. She spoke Hebrew, German, Arabic, Italian and English, and so was in demand as a translator. Her most acclaimed work was her translations from Hebrew to English of Israel’s major poet, Yehuda Amichai. Interesting to note…

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol 2: The Real Story

The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Vol 2, 1956 – 1963, edited by Peter K. Steinberg and Karen K, Kulkil. Faber & Faber, 2018. This huge volume (well over 1000 words, and too heavy for me to lift)  contains heartrending, fiercely honest, falsely cheerful, and enlightening words from Sylvia to her mother, her brother, her friends,…

A special review

I was thrilled to receive this email from Liz Hicklin, a former girlfriend of Ted Hughes. It gives added meaning to the words “based on a true story”. Liz has given me permission to share our correspondence with you:  Dear Dina, I have just finished your book [Capriccio: A Novel]. I loved it. I knew…

Mental Illness in ‘Capriccio: A Novel’

Recently, a reader asked me if mental illness had influenced the characters in my novel, ‘Capriccio’. Until she brought it to my attention I hadn’t realised  just how much the suffering in this story was brought about by the frailties of each character’s mind. Sylvia (Grace in the novel) had attempted suicide three times before…

Was Tanya/Shura Ted’s/Larry’s daughter?

(Warning: Spoilers) Although Assia was certain of her daughter’s paternity, declaring the father on her birth certificate to be Edward Hughes, Ted Hughes rarely referred to little Shura (named Tanya in the novel) as his daughter. Indeed there were instances when he denied paternity. Yet we are told that he was overcome with grief at…

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