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A commentary on Birthday Letters
on 22 December 2014
Published in 2000, just two years after the appearance of Hughes' Birthday Letters and his subsequent death, this is a popular account of the Plath-Hughes relationship, both the marriage and the poetic dialogue which exists between his Birthday Letters and her poetry.
Wagner tries to be balanced but tends more to the Hughes than Plath side of what has become almost a confrontation. Her readings of Hughes' poems are not particularly scholarly but do draw on biographical material and will likely be helpful to the A level/undergraduate student, general reader or anyone unfamiliar with the story of this most volatile of marriages.
Anyone with a more advanced academic interest in Plath-Hughes may well feel that they can't ignore this book, but while it's an interesting read, it doesn't offer anything new.