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Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz Reviews

Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz by Gail Crowther

Three-Martini Afternoons at the Ritz: The Rebellion of Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton

Gail Crowther

Score pending

1 review

Imprint: Simon & Schuster
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 27 May 2021
ISBN: 9781982138394

A vividly rendered and empathetic exploration of how two of the greatest poets of the 20th century-Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton-became bitter rivals and, eventually, friends.

4 stars out of 5
Daisy Goodwin
23 May 2021

"Crowther’s book is an admirable dissection of the way Plath and Sexton rebelled against the values of Fifties American womanhood"

Crowther’s book is an admirable dissection of the way Plath and Sexton rebelled against the values of Fifties American womanhood, particularly in their confident sexuality and insistence on being paid on a par with their male contemporaries, and makes the not original but still valid case that both were maddened by the effort of trying to write under the male gaze. She makes a convincing argument that the two bounced off each other’s work: Sexton gave Plath permission to loosen up, Plath helped Sexton to express her anger. Where the book fails is in its use of hopeful hypothesis — at the nadir of Plath’s life, when she was smarting from Hughes’s infidelity and postnatal depression, Crowther writes that “with her sharp tongue and wry eye Sexton would have likely done Plath’s hair and makeup and dragged her out to drink too much and put cheating men in their place”. Well maybe, but there was no feminist happy ending for either of them. Their demons were bigger than a girls’ night out.

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