The Last Confessions of Sylvia P.

Written by Lee Kravetz
Review by K. M. Sandrick

In present-day Boston, a curator for the St. Ambrose Auction House receives three spiral notebooks that appear to contain the first iterations of Sylvia Plath’s iconic novel The Bell Jar. In the 1950s, the poet Boston Rhodes writes to Professor Robert Lowell about her intense and often competitive relationship with Plath, and psychiatrist Dr. Ruth Barnhouse challenges psychiatric protocols when she treats Plath after a suicide attempt. The three women take turns telling their stories in The Last Confessions of Sylvia P.

This debut novel by acclaimed nonfiction writer Lee Kravetz gradually unveils deeply personal and emotional connections among the women. It reveals the long-term, subtle effects of transitory yet intense interactions and the gnawing consequences of rivalry on the subject and object of the competition, as well as individuals close to them.

The narrative explores the creative soul—how poets, in particular, see and feel the world around them and how often they are overwhelmed by their observations. It also raises an unsettling question: who is entitled to heretofore hidden thoughts and feelings of a writer? It’s often said that once they are written, the writer’s words belong to the reader. But there may be times when a writer’s words are meant for the eyes of a particular person—or no one at all.

The writing is exquisite; the messages, thought-provoking. A phenomenal debut.