Thursday, June 10, 2021

90 - 2021 Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton; Gail Crowther


 

TITLE/AUTHOR:  Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton; Gail Crowther

PUBLISHER Simon & Schuster Audio

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2021

GENRE: Non Fiction / Biographies / Feminism

FORMAT:  audio download / LENGTH:  8 hours and 38 min.

SOURCE:  publisher download

SETTING(s):  n/a

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A fascinating story  two brilliant female poets both tormented by self-doubts and thoughts of suicide.

BRIEF REVIEW:   Having read The Bell Jar several times,  I thought this might be a good opportunity to learn more about Plath's brief life.

Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton were brilliant and complex women.  The two poets met by chance at a writer's workshop lead by Robert Lowell at Boston University in 1959.  The two women formed a fast friendship meeting at Boston's Ritz Carlton for several martinis after each class.  Their discussions were not only about writing and poetry but ventured into bolder conversations like relationships, sex and even talk of suicide.  When the workshop had ended their friendship did not, although Plath remained in Massachusetts, Sexton moved to England yet they stayed in touch through correspondence.

Both women were progressive in a time when it was not acceptable. Neither woman was content to stay home, raise children, cook, keep up the house, entertain or to remain a silent partner.  Both were troubled with mental illness and thoughts of suicide.  While Plath committed suicide at 30, Sexton had several failed attempts before finally ending her life at 45.

Although I knew a lot about Plath's short life, Sexton's background was a mystery to me.  Each of the women had different parenting styles and upbringings and while Plath was organized and methodical Sexton was disorganized and had more of a fly by the seat of your pants outlook.   I thought the author did a good job comparing and yet, contrasting each woman in a way that never felt too heavy or too superficial.  The treatment methods for depression in years gone by were somewhat disturbing. The dual biographies on audio worked well  and was narrated by Imani Jade Powers .   I did missed out on the pictures which were included in the print edition. I thought the chapters flowed well and were well organized: Rebels, Early Days, Sex, Marriage, Mothering, Writing, Mental Illness, Suicide and an Epilogue.  Recommended for readers interested in a well-researched literary biography.

RATING:  4/5  


Thanks go to Simon & Schuster Audio for allowing me access to this audio book in exchange for my unbiased review.

24 comments:

  1. Sounds like they had a fairly hard life.

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    1. Yes, to have so much potential and not able to cope with the challenges of life.

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  2. I recently read Red Comet, the new biography of Plath, and it did mention her relationship with Sexton and the fact that she admired her work. They were both troubled souls who left us much too soon.

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this in audio!

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    1. Yes, I wasn't sure I would but, it worked out well. I just missed the photos but found many online.

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  4. I'm interested in both Plath and Sexton, so this is a book I'd be interested in reading, too.

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  5. Ha...when the title of this post popped up over on my blog list, my immediate thought was that Diane was really making the most of more relaxed COVID-19 rules we've been enjoying for the last few weeks.

    Interesting book. I struggle so much with poetry that I know little about poets such as these women. This sounds good.

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    1. When. I first did a quick-glance of the title, I thought it was fiction. I've struggled with poetry as well but, was long fascinated with Plath's short life

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  6. I know a lot about Sylvia Plath but almost nothing about Sexton. Interesting they had so many things in common. And sad, too. Such a loss that they both committed suicide.

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    1. Lark, I was the same way - and amazed how they had so many troubling similarities.

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  7. Sounds emotional. I started The Bell Jar but for some reason didn't finish it. Now I want to get another copy.

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    1. I read it twice on my own and once with my book group - plenty to discuss.

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  8. This isn't a book I would have considered reading on my own, but your review has me wanting to give it a try. It covers several themes that interest me, not to mention with Plath and Sexton at its center. I am adding this to my wish list.

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    1. Oh good, I hope it works well for you. I am not big into poetry but found their background and stories fascinating.

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  9. How did I miss the Plath tie-in when I first saw this?

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    1. I thought it was a fiction story at first glance as well.

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  10. I've read the poetry of both and a couple of biographies. Adding this one to my list!

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  11. This book sounds like it has a lot going for it even though it is probably a bit depressing given the way things end up. I love that they had that friendship.

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    1. I was amazed that there were motivated enough to keep up the letters to each other.

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  12. This sounds like something I would enjoy on audio. I watched Sylvia, the biopic about Plath (starring Gwyneth Paltrow) many years ago and went on to read Letters Home (Plath's letters between 1950 and 1963). I think we have a few collections of Sexton's poetry, but I'll have to check once we get back home. Thanks for the great review, Diane!

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  13. The narration was pretty good and easy to follow as well.

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