A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Washington Post Best Nonfiction of the Year
“Delicious and infuriating…unputdownable.” –Sadie Stein, New York Times
“A compulsively readable book.” -Wall Street Journal
In Lives of the Wives, author Carmela Ciuraru offers a witty, provocative look inside the tumultuous marriages of five famous writers, illuminating the creative process as well as the role of money, fame, and power in these complex and fascinating relationships.
The legendary British theater critic Kenneth Tynan encouraged his American wife, Elaine Dundy, to write, then watched in a jealous rage as she became a bestselling author. In their early years of marriage, Roald Dahl enjoyed basking in the glow of his glamorous movie star wife, Patricia Neal, until he detested her for being wealthier and more famous. Elizabeth Jane Howard had to divorce Kingsley Amis to escape his suffocating needs and pursue her own writing. In the marriage of the Italian novelists Elsa Morante and Alberto Moravia, it was Morante who often behaved abusively toward her cool, detached husband, even as he unwaveringly championed his wife’s talent and work. The most conventional partnership is a lesbian couple, Una Troubridge and Radclyffe Hall, both of whom were socially and politically conservative and unapologetic snobs.
Lives of the Wives is an erudite, entertaining project of reclamation and reparation, paying tribute to the wives who were often demonized and misrepresented, and revealing the price they paid for recognition and freedom.