Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath
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Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  820 ratings  ·  88 reviews
This is the story of a woman forging a new life for herself after her marriage has foundered, shutting up her beloved Devonshire house and making a home for her two young children in London, elated at completing the collection of poems she foresees will make her name. It is also the story of a woman struggling to maintain her mental equilibrium, to absorb the pain of her h...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 11th 2003 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 1st 2003)
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Aniko Carmean
Wintering, a novel of Sylvia Plath by Kate Moses, received glowing accolades from enough newspapers and reviewers to fill several pages at the front of the novel. Praise is heaped on the lucid intensity of the prose and the ability for Moses to give insight into the last several months of Plath's life. I'm going to be in the minority in not loving this book, mostly because I am of the opinion that if you want Plath, there is plenty about Plath by Plath. Between her journals, her letters home, an...more
Noëlibrarian
I gave this book the rare compliment of reading it twice -- once when it first came out, back in 2003. I have a frustrating relationship with Plath, to whom I'd like to give, alternately, a long hug and a hard slap. Apparently that's the way Ted felt about her, too.

As a child of a mother who made many attempts at suicide, and who finally died by accident when she was about Plath's age (when I was 2 1/2 and my sister was 5 1/2), I have always been struck by the extraordinary self-centeredness of...more
Amy
I love biographical fiction. I really liked The Paris Wife and Loving Frank so, I knew this would be right up my alley!
Wintering is a novel based on the last few months of Sylvia Plath's life with flashbacks to earlier times in her marriage to Ted Hughes.It is an emotional and depressing read (but, emotional and depressing is my middle name) and it is beautifully written. I love how the book is set up. The chapters are named for the poems in Ariel in their original sequence. And each chapter c...more
Danielle
This novel is a beautiful and poetic portrait of the last months of Sylvia Plath's life. It is heart breaking and joyful with hope and desperation at a constant ebb and flow. Kate Moses does a masterful job weaving the facts of Plath's life with the fictional intimate conversations, and interactions imagined between the known lines of Plath's fiery rise from the ashes of her broken marriage and the rapid fall of her star as her passion finally burned her out.

Fans of Plath should definitely pick...more
Becky
Mar 06, 2008 Becky rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Plath/Hughes fans
As someone who has studied Plath's life and work for a long time, I was intrigued by the notion of someone having taken on Plath, Hughes, and their friends and families as characters for a novel.

The chapters of Wintering are each titled after one of Plath's Ariel poems, in the original sequence Plath had planned for the book -- the manuscript was to begin with the word "love" and end with the word "spring." Wintering author Kate Moses has clearly done a lot of excellent research -- this is appar...more
Shaz S

Since I had no previous knowledge of Kate Moses's work, I picked up this book purely on the basis of my obsession with Sylvia Plath. The book is a fictional look at the last few months of SP's life. The narrative switches quite comfortably between first and third person narrative very often. Considering this is Kate Moses' first book, its quite impressive but its not an easy read. The titles of the chapters are from the poems of Ariel, her last collection of poems. The book starts with Sylvia mo...more
Kathy
I don't know what to think of the book "Wintering" yet. I am enjoying the poetic prose but at times it gets confusing, especially during the Ariel chapter.

I understand that the poem, Ariel, was one of Sylvia Plath's best poems, and Ariel, the horse, was very significant in her life (an inspiration), but for me, this chapter went on a bit too much. It was mostly just descriptions of the scenery and her relationship to the handling of the horse. Ariel was not an easy horse to maneuver and Sylvia w...more
Raquel
Poetic, narrowly focused fictionalization of Sylvia Plath's last few months. The novel is set mostly in December, a particularly brutal winter in London, when Plath is in the throes of a divorce and struggling to care for her children in an unheated flat with no telephone while also trying hard to write poetry (the poems that would eventually make up "Ariel").

At times, the focus was so claustrophobic and painful I wanted to look away, but the language was so poetic and full of imagery that I ke...more
Kathy
Mixed reaction here. Kate Moses obviously immersed herself in all the Plath writings (by and about) and does try to channel the very words Plath might have used. So, you really have to admire her earnestness and her love of language.

But Sylvia Plath is tricky territory. So many of us are sort of fangirls, you know? And we all have our triggers and sore points and exalted opinions and sorrows and yearnings. (and we wonder about--how we wonder--what the poems of the next decades would have held).

T...more
Janet
I loved this. The poet's struggles with her time, her marriage, herself--depression, motherhood, perfectionism... I really felt this marriage, really felt this personality. A lovely book.
Jen Selinsky
The author creates a mostly fictional account of the degradation of Pulitzer Prize winning writer, Sylvia Plath. The aspiring writer and poet finds herself living in Yeats’s childhood house, without hardly a penny to her name. Since her recent separation from her husband, British poet, Ted Hughes, she concentrates on caring for her two young children, Frieda and Nicholas. The book skips around to different events that occur in Sylvia’s life, and they paint a picture of single motherhood and desp...more
Tiziana
A biographical novel about Sylvia Plath would naturally be heavy, given the nature of her life story. But gosh, this was SO heavy!

It was full of long paragraphs, elaborate with diverse adjectives and descriptions which made me struggle to go on reading. The switching back and forth in time with each chapter did not help either, although the concept of building the novel upon the original intended sequence of the Ariel poetry collection was interesting enough, but after a while, that too appeare...more
Tifnie
This was another novel/biography that I normally wouldn't have picked, but I'm glad I did and glad I read it.

I gave it 3 stars because it ended rather aburptly and I had to go online to research the "rest of the story".

Wintering is about, of course Sylvia Plath, whom is a famous poet writer. The story is set in London in the early 1960's. It's the events leading up to her untimely death. Her various relationships in her life; husband, mother, and children. Upon reading this book, I felt like e...more
Kalika
The last few months before the poet committed suicide in mysterious circumstances are recreated in this book that focuses more on Plath's emotional state, how she was feeling her way through this emotional/mental hell, rather than offering any pat explanations for her reasons for taking her own life. In fact, the book stops short of the actual incident but the despair that clings to every page heralds it. Everything in the book, even the most mundane tasks of housekeeping and childcare, are raw...more
candace madera
This book was beautifully written and you can tell the author has a profound respect for the woman and works she writes about. Sylvia Plath’s life was a sad one, losing her father at a young age, a nervous breakdown in her twenties, a miscarriage, a failing marriage, and always the desire to be better and do more. Her story isn’t very different from those of most women. The divorce rate in the US is estimated between 40% and 50% and it’s no secret today’s society is full of unfaithful husbands,...more
Maggie
I would not have read this had it not been for the TNBBC challenge, I've never been big on poetry at all. I just don't GET it, and I guess I never had any desire too. But when I heard on the radio that Sylvia Plath's son had hanged himself this winter after she had killed herself several decades ago, I guess the sicko in me wanted to learn more.

Plath was such a tragic figure, she was really really sick and depressed, and it's so sad that she couldn't get the help she really needed. This book foc...more
Beverly
I don't write reviews nearly as often as I should but this book compels me to write one. The novel is based on facts known about Plath, but what makes this book extraordinary is the beauty of the prose. Each chapter is named after a poem in Plath's final book Ariel. The chapter entitled "Ariel" was so beautiful I read it twice.

If you are at all interested in Plath and her work, I highly recommend this book. I loved it.
Anne
This is a fictional biography of Sylvia Plath based on her final collections of poems, published post-humously by her philandering husband, former Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes. The book is written in a beautiful poetic style, but knowing it would end with Plath's suicide, about half-way through I found that I was too sad to continue reading it. So, I put it on the shelf. Feeling somewhat melancholy myself last week, I picked it back off the shelf and finished it out. This is a difficult read, but M...more
Lifelikemine
This brilliant book is based on Sylvia Plath's Life and death. It is sequenced and directly based upon Moses biographical interpretation of Plath's life as she wrote the poems for her best selling Poetry collection 'Ariel'.

'Ariel' was published posthumously and edited by her husband Ted Hughes. However, when Ted Hughes edited Sylvia's Ariel poems he didn't put them into the order that Sylvia had listed in her own notes.

Wintering's chapter heading are the titles of Plath's 'Ariel' poems correct...more
Rita
I found this book in a recycle dumpster outside of the library and picked it up because Sylvia Plath has fascinated me since the first time I heard about her and the gas oven.

It was hard to put down. Very well researched and written, and Kate Moses can phrase certain intangible emotions perfectly. I admit that I enjoyed the book for mostly personal reasons - my mild obsession with Plath, and having plodded miserably and antagonizingly through a relationship built on symbiotic compromise.

Other t...more
sisterimapoet
An engaging and wordy novel allowing the reader a speculative window onto the last few months of Plath's life.

We get to see Sylvia not just as a poet or a tortured soul, we see her as a mother, a child, a lover and a friend. We see the choices and sacrifices she had to make as well as those she chose.

The novel gave strong presentations of seasonal changes in England, as well as comparisons of country and city life.

Very accomplished although at times hard to remember when reading that this is...more
Adam Cogbill
I liked learning about Plath's life--although the authors admits to taking some liberties with events and character--but this felt like a slog. I don't mind books that are slow and painstaking, and I don't really need plot, but the prose is was, I thought, overwrought. Every noun got at least one, and often two, adjectives, and everything was dramatic and symbolic. The structure was cool: it was broken into sections each headed by a title of one of Plath's poems in Ariel, and I liked that Moses...more
Jamie
Jul 27, 2007 Jamie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: me, but i've read it.
I'm a Sylvia Plath freak. This and a love of John Lennon have been perhaps my two most long-standing crushes. This book is amazing, my first experience with "fictionalized" biography, but, now it's one of my favorite tactics, I think. I love a little poetic liscense, especially regarding Sylvia Plath, since this sort of gives her a human-edge rather than some gross, sepia-inspired Ryan Adams song. It shows her as a little obnoxious, a bit over-bearing, but also soulful and sensitive, all that go...more
Tamara
Sep 10, 2010 Tamara rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with Sylvia Plath interest
Recommended to Tamara by: Katie
I'd rather give 4 1/2 stars. The use of Plath's language, voice, and imagery is amazing. I loved this book, and felt just about every emotion while reading it. I'd definitely recommend this to Sylvia Plath's fans, though I think it would be best if the reader has some previous knowledge of Plath's life because the book isn't written in consecutive order and could be hard to follow otherwise. I also think that Ted Hughes was painted in a very fair light. His story felt honest without being overly...more
Johanne
Kate Moses presents a brilliant interpretation of the last months of Sylvia Plath's life. As I was reading this beautifully written first novel, I find myself hearing the voice of Sylvia Plath... I was with her, in an exceptionally freezing London. I could feel the bite of the cold on her wet feet and the red burning cheeks of her sick children. Moving back in time, traveling from London to the Devonshire, this novel evokes perfectly her feelings for her husband Ted Hugues, her pain, her moment...more
Angie
Exquisitely written, depressing to the core. Loved it!
Jessica
A lyrically written imagining of Sylvia Plath's last weeks. A dense read, because like in poetry, every word counts and language choice is crucial.
Kelly
If you want to be depressed read this book. It is an account of the last couple months of Sylvia Plath's life. Her marriage has failed and she is left alone with two young children at Christmas.

The story jumps around quite a bit and is hard to follow at times. But it is richly written.

To be honest - I am so glad to be done with this book. Sylvia was a very depressed person. The love story was interesting but again sad.

If you like The Bell Jar then read this book. Or if you are a huge Sylvia P...more
sis
i have to preface this with my familiarization with sylvia plath. and since, inevitably, i knew what happened, i found it difficult to finish out of my own anticipation of the ending.
however, while i have mixed feelings about the book, i really liked the writing style, the words, the images...although the way it was organised was confusing. i read it more out of order than it was, but i found myself going back to review what had happened.
which leaves 5 stars for writing style etc
and 3 stars for...more
June
This book is beautifully written, I savored every word. The story, as we all know, is torturous, and I found myself holding my breath waiting for the sad ending. Moses is an excellent writer, her sentences are full of silky words and tangible descriptions, and every scene is bursting with emotive energy. This is the kind of ultra sucessful novel that begs to be read over and over, and each time the reader will leave it having noticed something new, experienced something even more palpable. Wonde...more
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