The Last Confessions of Sylvia P.: A Novel (Hardcover)
“Lee Kravetz has created a bit of a miracle, a plot-driven literary puzzle box whose mystery lives in both its winding approach to history and its wonderous story. It’s a book full of ideas about inspiration and a love for language that translates across borders, physical and generational.”—Adam Johnson, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for The Orphan Master's Son
Blending past and present, and told through three unique interwoven narratives that build on one another, a daring and brilliant debut novel that reimagines a chapter in the life of Sylvia Plath, telling the story behind the creation of her classic semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar.
A seductive literary mystery and mutigenerational story inspired by true events, The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. imaginatively brings into focus the period of promise and tragedy that marked the writing of Sylvia Plath’s modern classic The Bell Jar. Lee Kravetz uses a prismatic narrative formed from three distinct fictional perspectives to bring Plath to life—that of her psychiatrist, a rival poet, and years later, a curator of antiquities.
Estee, a seasoned curator for a small Massachusetts auction house, makes an astonishing find: the original manuscript of Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, written by hand in her journals fifty-five years earlier. Vetting the document, Estee will discover she’s connected to Plath’s legacy in an unexpected way.
Plath’s psychiatrist, Dr. Ruth Barnhouse, treats Plath during the dark days she spends at McLean Hospital following a suicide attempt, and eventually helps set the talented poet and writer on a path toward literary greatness.
Poet Boston Rhodes, a malicious literary rival, pushes Plath to write about her experiences at McLean, tipping her into a fatal spiral of madness and ultimately forging her legacy.
Like Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, and Theresa Anne Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. bridges fact and fiction to imagine the life of a revered writer. Suspenseful and beautifully written, Kravetz’s masterful literary novel is a hugely appealing read.
— Adam Johnson, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for The Orphan Master's Son
"Bold, compelling, and gorgeously written, The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. is slightly reminiscent of AS Byatt's Possession, but instead of a love story, this is a tale of rivalry and betrayal. A truly satisfying page-turner."
— Karen Joy Fowler, Booker Prize Finalist for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and author of The Jane Austen Book Club
"It would be easy, too easy perhaps, to see The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. as a spiritual sequel to Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, but Lee Kravetz's novel is very much its own thing, an audacious imagining that will have readers greedy to learn more about Plath and her literary cohort."
— Paul Harding, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for Tinkers
"The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. is a page-turning joy full of surprise, mystery, and suspense. Notify all book groups!"
— Christina Clancy, author of The Second Home
"A vivid portrait of mid-century America, particularly located in the Seven-Sisters-matching-bag-and-shoes class of women who seem to have everything but find themselves suffocatingly unfulfilled nevertheless. By playing with the real and the invented, Lee Kravetz creates a juicy, propulsive tale of artistic jealousy, fame, and psychology."
— Dana Spiotta, author of Wayward
"The Last Confessions of Sylvia P. is a fascinating and absorbing kaleidoscopic novel and a tender portrait of Sylvia Plath that, like the hand-written manuscript of The Bell Jar at the center of the novel, offers the reader more than one compelling picture, and point of view, of the poet. A literary page turner."
— Kate Hope Day, Author of In the Quick
"This novel is, at its heart, a Kate Atkinson-esque mystery; and Kravetz masterfully weaves [the characters'] tales together, slowly allowing us to piece together the secret around which the story revolves, while also providing stark, subtle commentary on the constraints of women’s lives, sixty years ago and now. This is one of the most enjoyable—and also the most moving—novels I’ve read in years."
— Joanna Rakoff, author of My Salinger Year
"Kravetz’s debut novel is a compelling literary mystery that explores the creation of poet Sylvia Plath’s only novel. . . . Writing about real literary figures can be tricky, especially if their descendants are still living, but the author brings his characters, both imagined and historical, to life with sensitivity."
— Kirkus Reviews
"An engrossing fiction debut . . . . Kravetz brings both authority and empathy to his depictions of mental illness. He also reveals himself to be a fine novelist."
— Publishers Weekly