Books about Ted Hughes are certainly not in short supply, but this memoir by his older brother Gerald has a particular charm. We have rarely heard from family members up to now, and this short book of reminiscences, while offering few new insights and certainly no shocking or surprising revelations, does in fact show us another side of Ted Hughes, that of the adoring little boy always looking up to and being taught and guided by his older brother. Much of his interest in, and knowledge of, nature and the countryside, which became such an integral part of his work, was inspired and fostered by Gerald, who regularly shared his own knowledge with his little brother. In 3 parts - Childhood, The War Years, and Keeping in Touch - the memoir is as much about Gerald Hughes as it is about Ted, and chronicles the early years in Yorkshire up to Ted's death in 1998. Gerald himself emigrated to Australia after the war, and if Ted hadn't met Sylvia Plath at Cambridge it is quite like that he would have joined Gerald - a fact that gives plenty of scope to the "what if" school of literary theory! Ted in fact always hoped that Gerald would return to England so that they could farm together and once said that if Gerald only lived nearby "My life would not be half as crazy." But Gerald had built a new and successful life in Australia and the brothers only rarely managed to see each other. Nevertheless the bond between them remained strong, and this is a gentle and affectionate memoir, told with dignity and tact, and with many photos and examples of Gerald's own art work. A very enjoyable read.
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