by David Park - £8.99 Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (2015)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781408846360 | ISBN 10: 1408846365
Three women, each destined to play the role of a poet's wife: Catherine Blake, the wife of William Blake – a poet, painter and engraver who struggles for recognition in a society that dismisses him as a madman; Nadezhda Mandelstam, wife of Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, whose poetry costs him his life under Stalin's terror; and the wife of a fictional contemporary Irish poet, who looks back on her marriage during the days after her husband's death as she seeks to fulfil his final wish.
Set across continents and centuries, and in very different circumstances, these three women confront the contradictions between art and life, contemplate their emotional and physical sacrifices for another's creativity, and struggle with infidelities that involve not only the flesh, but ultimately poetry itself. They find themselves custodians of their husbands' work, work that has been woven with love's intimacies and which has shaped their own lives in the most unexpected of ways.
Deeply insightful and beautifully wrought, The Poets' Wives is David Park at his best – a novelist whose work has the power to bring the hidden from the shadows, into a delicate and shimmering light.
(Price & availability last checked: April 2015)