on 8 January 2001
I was mainly interested in reading this book because of my purient interest in the author's relationship with Ted Hughes. Less a memoire of her life in the 70's, the book is indeed "All about Ted" and about little else. There are some interesting things here - Hughes' reference to having 3 chances seems perhaps linked to his later poem about Sylvia Plath, 'The Offers'; Tennant's meeting with the children of Plath and Hughes; Hughes comment about being faithful to his "first mate",etc. I was struck by the sonnambulistic description of Tennant's attraction to Hughes - as though she were drugged and drawn to him against her will. Overall, an interesting view of the reticent and publicity shy Hughes, it will both aggravate and interest readers of Plath's and Hughes' work. Hypocritically, after reading it, I wondered if it was the right thing to publish this account so soon after Hughes' death, (or ever) with his widow and children still living. It seems that after his death, Hughes will now be subjected to the same type of scrutiny his late wife engendered. And there are those readers who will deplore this and those who will applaud. This is a well written book and I know a little more about Hughes than I did before reading it - but not much more about Tennant.
The publicity given to the death of Sylvia Plath ensured that Ted Hughes was in the spotlight for many years after her death; this seemed to have the effect, not surprisingly, of making him even more camera and publicity shy. At public readings (and I have attended many) he seemed reluctant to engage too much with the audience - his fans - and often did not sign autographs, unlike other poets who would sign and chat, e.g. Seamus Heaney who often read with him. For such a tall man with a real presence, this was surprising.
This "latter Hughes" is the subject of these diaries written by someone who knew him intimately and, though it seems like exploiting him so soon after his death, Hughes fans will find it fascinating.
Without doubt, it provides insights into Hughes others could not present.