The Invisible Woman

 “The invisible woman: A Review of ‘Lover of Unreason’ by Eilat Negev and Yehuda Koren, by Peter Porter. Reprinted from The Guardian Oct 2006 The title of this all-encompassing biography of Assia Wevill, ‘Lover of Unreason’,  refers to Assia’s self-chosen epitaph, with she wanted engraved on her tombstone.  It perhaps reflects her descent into depression…

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…

Do you have to ‘like’ the main character? Reader Reviews.

Recently someone who was a little way through my book said; ‘It’s good, but she (Esther) is so selfish! I don’t like her at all.’ I agreed, and said that it’s true, she was not your most noble or exemplary character. Beautiful, yes, as the portrait shows, but vain and mischievous as well. This got…

The Rocky Road to Publication

Fifteen years ago I came across a newspaper article called “Haunted by the Ghosts of Love”. It was the story of the woman who had come between two famous poets: Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Her name was Assia Gutmann Wevill. I had never heard of her. Assia’s story fascinated me, and I began to…

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…

Ted Hughes, Assia, and the Kabbalah

  Kabbalah (Hebrew קַבָּלָה‎)  literally means “receiving/tradition”. It is an ancient series of spiritual teachings originating in the twelfth century BC, in the town of Safed in Palestine. Notes found in Ted Hughes’ loose leaf notebook in the British Library summarise the story of a Jewish Talmudist, Rabbah bar Hannah, who set down  his life story of…

Folktale: Excerpt from “Capriccio: a Novel”

it was a cat-and-mouse game between the lovers. In his poetry, TH referred to his mistress as ‘a magnificent leopard’ in his set of poems to her, called ‘Capriccio’. I’ve used this for the title of my novel. Each chapter refers to one of these 20 poems. The excerpt above is from an earlier draft of…

The meaning of ‘Capriccio’

DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF CAPRICCIO | kəˈprɪtʃɪəʊ | noun (plural capriccios) 1 a lively piece of music, typically one that is short and free in form: its four acts contain a number of capriccios and chorales. 2 a painting or other work of art representing a fantasy or a mixture of real and imaginary features: two capriccios by de la Joue which fitted 18th century frames. ORIGIN: early 17th century (denoting a sudden change of mind): from Italian,…

About ‘Capriccio: A Novel’

“Capriccio: a Novel” is inspired by the life of Assia Gutmann Wevill, the “other woman” who came between poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. At the request of the Hughes Estate names of the protagonists have been changed. However, those readers familiar with the true story will easily recognise the main players. This version of the…