Praise for Wintering

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Wintering: A Novel of Sylvia Plath

From the international press:

“It’s generally not advisable for a first novelist to imagine herself into the mind of a famous poet, particularly one as famously complicated and adored as Sylvia Plath. But if the writer is as discerning and talented as Kate Moses, then what should be an impossible project is not only viable but significant. Wintering is beautiful and moving. With lyrical dexterity and great economy, Moses portrays a demanding, pitiless woman struggling against the stark fact of her husband’s infidelity and her own inner demons. Even the asides ring true. This is a novel about ambition, motherhood, identity and love. The real story, though, is that of a woman finally finding her muse.”
–The New York Times Book Review

“Written in lush, luminous prose, Wintering made me feel that Moses was channeling Plath herself. After her death, Plath became canonized as victim as well as genius. This remarkable novel rights those wrongs, giving a new resilience to Plath. I felt as if I were experiencing a strong and yes, suffering woman in present tense, a woman who had no real control over love, but who had absolute and enthralling power over her art.”
–Boston Globe

Wintering gives us the poet newly envisioned fixated on living, not on dying. Moses poignantly portrays the artist as struggling mother, fleshing out the tenderness Plath displayed in poems like ‘Morning Song,’ and evoking the comfort to be had in the heat and chatter of tiny humans.”
–Elle

“Tantalizing…. The lingering, ambient beauty of the opening lines is maintained throughout the book. Wintering is extremely well researched and fair-minded, which quality alone makes it unusual in the writing about Plath and Hughes. [Kate Moses is] a new writer of startling, lyrical intensity who is worth looking out for.”
–Times Literary Supplement

“Exceptional first novel, shot through with a fierce poetic luminosity that almost matches that of Moses’s much-written-about subject…. But the key question is whether the book succeeds as a compelling piece of fiction, and the answer is that it does, triumphantly…. It is not a sentimental book, but rather one that evokes Plath’s fierce joy in words and images and her huge motherly courage in the face of crippling adversity…. Readers will find it moving almost beyond words.”
–Publishers Weekly starred forecast

“Fantastically rich, psychologically shrewd…. A triumph.”
–Philadelphia Inquirer

“When you hold this book open, your hands will be full of [Sylvia Plath].”
–Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, National Public Radio

“Plath has now inspired first-time novelist Moses, who presents an exquisite interpretation of the finally months of the brilliant but angst-riven poet’s short life. Moses is so fluent in Plath’s swordlike language and mythic imagery, and so attuned to the dire complications of a love match between two intense poets, she writes with a cleansing purity, free of judgement and rich in intuition. In her finest passages, she reanimates the all-too-quickly defiled Eden the two poets attempted to create at Court Green, Plath’s feverish and indelible poetic output, and her manic domestic industry: her muscular mothering, gardening, cooking, beekeeping, painting and sewing. Plath held herself to impossibly high standards, and Moses traces the source of Plath’s unsustainable drive and sensitivity and their tragic consequences with empathetic artistry.”
–Booklist

Wintering is a brave enterprise as swoonily intense as Plath’s own work.”
–Sydney Morning Herald

“Exceptionally lucid and beautifully written…. An absorbing, richly textured book.”
–The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Lush… Strikingly vivid…. Moses has researched her subject as thoroughly as any biographer.”
–The Baltimore Sun

“An amazingly moving and tender novel, as well as beautifully wrought… Moses has achieved the extraordinary: found something new to say about Plath.”
–Independent on Sunday

“In her debut novel, Wintering, Kate Moses recreates the heart, soul, and psyche of Sylvia Plath, a feat that is so extraordinary and so realistic in its execution that it is difficult to know where to start in describing it. The reader feels as if she is actually entering the mind of Plath, a Plath who is speaking and reminiscing, conjuring up events, aching, dreaming, and hoping. Astonishingly, Moses achieves this without ever deviating from a third person narrative and without ever speaking as Plath herself. Like the [Ariel] poems, the chapters seize on images and events in random order, making Moses’ achievement in creating a real and memorable narrative out of the creative chaos truly daunting. Images from the poems take on added significance when they are repeated and expanded in Moses’ narrative; likewise, events from the narrative shed light on some of the intense but sometimes unfocused feeling in the poems.”
–Mostlyfiction.com

“A brave and strangely beguiling work.”
–Daily Mail

“A stunning first novel, [Wintering is] a memorable and powerful meditation on a woman whose essence remains as mysterious and compelling now as it ever was. It is a testament to the power of Moses’ prose and the conjuring act that is Wintering that there are points along the way when reconciliation seems possible for Plath and Hughes, and, even more remarkably, when it seems possible that Plath will not, could not possibly, choose death.”
–St. Petersburg Times

“This dense, emotional first novel is Moses’ imagined account of the last months of poet Sylvia Plath. Her book is a stunner.”
–Arizona Republic

“Breathtaking in both its audacity and in its achievement…. a convincing, sympathetic, but unflinching evocation of the subtle tensions and passions of Plath’s psyche.”
–Yorkshire Post

“Moses’ best gift is a talent for capturing the essence of a scene or character in a few well-chosen, inventive words. She never takes the easy way out — there’s no reaching, here, for the nearest worn metaphor about marriage or motherhood. No: a crying baby is an inconsolable tyrant, catastrophic in his terry-cloth bib. When Frieda, Sylvia’s eldest child, learns to use the toilet, the scene is a tiny gem. ‘Moments pass. Nick is tasting the edge of the tub. Frieda sits like a pharaoh, back straight, shoulders slightly hunched, her hands cupped around the armwrests of the potty chair.’ That’s beautiful writing: a catastrophe in a terry-cloth bib, a child like a pharaoh on the potty. But then, finding a way to express both beauty and pain in words was the mission of Plath’s life and one in which she succeeded, far beyond even her ambitious dreams. This novel is one she would have appreciated.”
–The Buffalo News

“In this fictional recreation of Plath’s short life after her busted marriage, Moses keeps an open mind. Following Plath and her children through a desperate few days in London, Moses does a wonderful job of getting inside the pathology of a woman scorned, the combination of foolish hope and bitter resentment that makes ex-lovers do stupid things.”
–The Hartford Courant

Wintering is steadfastly true to its subject. As a researcher, Moses knows everything about Plath, having analyzed exhaustively her poems, journals, letters, biographies and critiques. As a writer, she fills in the blanks beautifully, channeling Plath’s unique poetic spirit to tell her story. Moses has created an unusually luminous potrayal of Plath, bringing to flesh-and-blood life her rare intensity, ambition and struggle.”
–San Diego Union-Tribune

Wintering succeeds as a meditation on one of the last century’s greatest poets. . . . Moses’ often-splendid prose pays homage to the capacity of Plath’s poetry to shock with a few spare phrases.”
–The Tennesseean

“A surpassing achievement…. It’s the ebb and flow of Plath’s mind that Moses performs with such high-wire daring. While we do get the sense that ‘fixed stars/Govern a life,’ as Plath wrote… we also understand, on every page, that things might have turned out differently.”
–Weekend Australian

“A brilliant, fervent book that deploys a million-dollar vocabulary with Napoleonic assurance. . . . A tour de force, a plausible recreation of the way a poet of great gifts might have thought and felt.”
–Book Magazine

“A freshly compelling and poetic reimagining of Sylvia Plath’s last days.”
–Time Out New York

“A valuable, searing addition to the Plath canon.”
–Washington Times

“To her credit, Kate Moses has chosen to consign Plath’s death in February 1963 to a postscript in her masterful first novel, Wintering. Her real subject is the completion of the manuscript of Ariel, Plath’s second collection of verse, in the fall and winter of 1962…. It is striking that so lyrical a novel can be so unsentimental about artistic production…. Wintering is a heroic tale about writing in the face of despair, about art as the most cunning weapon one can bring to a marriage.”
–Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Inspired by arcane academic discovery, demanding to be read in tandem with the volume of [Ariel] poetry itself, [Wintering] is, none the less, a novel, beautifully written. Moses’ research has obviously been exhaustive, but it is worn as lightly as air…. The strength of this book is its almost poetic distillation of reality. Moses creates inspired evocations of scenes from Plath’s life, crystallising singular events into images that speak above their own weight…. She has inhabited the poet, seeing through her eyes, using her language as easily as her own.”
–The Scotsman

“This accomplished and richly textured first novel gives Plath back much of her humanity…. Using her poetic vision, Moses evokes a powerful portrait that is typically missing from other works and excels when describing Plath’s day-to-day struggles and triumphs…. This is an emotionally riveting work. Highly recommended.”
–Library Journal starred review

Wintering is as good as it gets without having Plath rise from the grave and set the facts straight herself. Moses is an exceptionally skilled writer…. She has written a beautiful and tender novel of the doomed artist. Readers will feel Plath’s despair, her numbing chill…. It is gut-wrenching reading.”
–The Roanoke Times

“Superlative prose: Moses’ words pour out in long, heady sentences… and with a sense of urgency that suggests she was compelled to write this novel.”
–Scotland on Sunday

“Moses is best when she cuts straight into Plath’s psyche…. This is the Plath we sense in the Ariel poems — a woman consumed by so many desires that they ultimately tore her apart, but one who was also able, at least for a time, to rely on an inner core of steely certitude…it’s an aspect of the poet that has long been overlooked in favor of the dramatic details of her marriage and suicide. In uncovering it, Moses does Plath a great service.”
–Newsday

“Rich and harrowing, told with none of the sensationalism or cheap sentiment that has undermined so many accounts of Plath’s life and end.”
–Kirkus Reviews

“Harrowing and exhilarating… audacious and deeply moving…Wintering helps rescue the poet from permanent posthumous victimhood…. Moses’ beautifully written narrative often reads like a poem.”
–Courier-Post

“Flawless… fierce…. Kate Moses’ remarkable Wintering… shows us a Sylvia we suspected but never knew — a loving if bewildered mother, a mournful wife, and a fervently devoted artist whose demons shaped, but never conquered, her creative voice.”
Dallas Morning News

Praise for Wintering from writers and scholars:

“Kate Moses brings to the hard facts of Plath’s biography a powerful imagination and a remarkable acuity of vision. The result is a beautiful, tender novel that shows us how art is made and, in the process, illuminates the mysteries of the mind in fine detail.”
–Joanna Scott, author of Make Believe

Wintering is a unique spiritual biography that might be called the nimbus of Sylvia Plath. Kate Moses and the tormented poet seem to have shared one life. The prose is exact and the resonance extraordinary.”
–Evan S. Connell, author of Mrs. Bridge, Mr. Bridge, Son of the Morning Star, and Deus lo Volt!: Chronicle of the Crusades

“Fiction, guided by the educated imagination, can lead where mere chronicle dare not venture. Kate Moses knows everything on record about Sylvia Plath, but her novelist’s imagination takes us into those crevices of Plath’s mind where no one else has ever penetrated. Her novel evokes the special qualities of the wife, the mother, the poet, the woman whose intensity of experience somehow overwhelmed her senses, her sanity, but never her language. No other version of those mysterious last months before Sylvia Plath’s suicide goes so far to restore to life the poet, the woman, whom I knew.”
–Peter Davison, friend/editor of Plath’s poems/editor of the best-known biography of Plath, Anne Stevenson’s Bitter Fame

“The poems of Ariel that swarmed from Sylvia Plath as her marriage collapsed form the point of departure in this beautiful novel, which is exquisitely attuned to the strange half-life in the nerves produced by shattered intimacy. I’ve never read a more womanly book.”
–Diane Middlebrook, author of Anne Sexton: A Biography

“Kate Moses’ first novel is truly a labor of love — painstakingly researched, rich with emotion, sparked by flashes of unexpected insight, and, in its way, as intensely felt as one of Sylvia Plath’s poems. The author makes an outstanding debut in the world of fiction.”
–Mark Childress, author of Crazy in Alabama and Gone for Good

“Kate Moses, against all the odds, has produced an admirably just and unexaggerated work of psychological empathy. She succeeds in making her readers feel what it must have been like to be Sylvia Plath while sympathizing at the same time with Ted Hughes and his perplexed response to his wife’s desperate needs. Everyone who seeks a valid, impartial explanation for Plath’s suicide should read this book.”
–Anne Stevenson, author of Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath

“Kate Moses’ Wintering will surely be read as an interpretation of the fate of Sylvia Plath, but that would be an injustice to a novel which describes with great tenderness the sad trajectory of the life of someone very like Sylvia Plath. It’s a bleak and attentive account; it’s a very good novel.”
–Herbert Gold, author of She Took My Arm As If She Loved Me and Daughter Mine

“A lyric, honey-stir of a book.”
–Thomas Sanchez, author of Day of the Bees, Mile Zero, Rabbit Boss

“Lovingly conceived, impeccably researched, intelligent and intricate in its design, Wintering is a book of exquisite grace, and extraordinary act of imagination and compassion. Kate Moses does not merely enter the haunting hush of Sylvia Plath’s world, she fiercely and persuasively inhabits it.”
–Beth Kephart, author of the 1998 National Book Award Finalist A Slant of the Sun

“There are some who will resist Wintering pre-emptively, suspicious of its subject matter or critical of the risk it takes. The loss will be theirs. Those who come to the novel with an open mind will know it for what it is: lyrical, powerful, and above all, a work of art in its own right.”
–Jean Hanff Korelitz, author of The Sabbathday River

“I loved Wintering. Kate Moses does an almost clairvoyant job of fitting together the pieces, Plath’s words, the states of mind she imagined herself into.”
–Judith Kroll, author of Chapters in a Mythology: The Poetry of Sylvia Plath