A magnificent, cutting yet open-hearted study of one woman trying to find meaning, while dodging servility to men, the home and babies. And ultimatelyA magnificent, cutting yet open-hearted study of one woman trying to find meaning, while dodging servility to men, the home and babies. And ultimately having to face herself.
Plath's poetic confessional never seems to me to be pulling on our sympathy - if anything the opposite - and you are left at the end with a hope that she might forge forward. Sadly, we know she only got so far. ...more
I'm the author of this book so it's impossible for me to review it normally - instead, I'll tell you how the book came into existence, and how it chanI'm the author of this book so it's impossible for me to review it normally - instead, I'll tell you how the book came into existence, and how it changed me while I was writing it.
At the beginning, I was simply writing down some stories that I had made up, about a large teddy bear I'd bought from IKEA. I was, at the time, very nervous about becoming a dad. Playing with the idea of a large, live Teddy, in the back of the car or around the house, gave me the opportunity to find out how I'd react to carrying someone around in my life. So, to begin with, that's all Teddy was, and his stories grew out of that.
I soon began to realise that Teddy's character (such as it was back then) was an interesting one. Irrepressibly naive, but with quiet strength and autonomy, it made me wonder what would happen if he found himself in the world alone. And when my first son arrived I soon worked out why Teddy might leave! The idea for Teddy's journey came out of that.
At the beginning, I was writing for an audience of two - my wife and I - but the book took on a life of its own. The story became more intricate and serious, the ideas behind it helped me understand some of the things I was feeling at the time, and people told me they wanted to read it when it was finished.
After playing around with the book for five years, I decided to really write it properly. I re-drafted the whole thing so it was more consistent and read better, and added the final two chapters of the book, which introduced a wider narrative that gave the book a denouement and better showed all that Teddy (and we) had learned during the book.
In the end I found I had changed. I'd become a proper writer, concerned with building and telling stories that matter; I'd faced my demons to do with parenthood and created a story about love and belonging and innocence; I'd developed as a person, no longer just looking inwards, but now using writing to express and share and give to others things that I've learned or thought about - things that seem like they might matter to people in general.
And the response has been amazing. I've had emails from people I've never met telling me what Teddy means to them; saying the book is one of the best things they've ever read (I don't know what they've been reading until now!) and asking for - or rather demanding - the sequel. ...more
He has the ability to write the most heart-yanking bittersweet prose without ever slipping into the land of the twee. The quality of the ideas and texHe has the ability to write the most heart-yanking bittersweet prose without ever slipping into the land of the twee. The quality of the ideas and text are stunning....more