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The Poet’s Wife

UK Publisher: Black Swan

It is 1841. Patty is married to John Clare: peasant poet, genius and madman.

Travelling home one day, Patty finds her husband sitting, footsore, at the side of the road, having absconded from a lunatic asylum over eighty miles away. Hopeful that his condition has improved, she takes his hands in delight but he fails to recognize her. She is devastated to discover that he has not returned home to find her, but to search for his childhood sweetheart, Mary Joyce, to whom he believes he is married.

Patty still loves John deeply, but he seems lost to her, obsessed with the idealised image of a woman that she cannot possibly match. Plagued by jealousy, she seeks strength in memories: their whirlwind courtship, the poems John wrote for her, their shared affinity for the land. She must try to heal John’s turbulent, unhappy soul and restore him to the man she married. But as John descends further into delusion and his behaviour becomes increasingly volatile, hope seems to be fading. Will she ever be able to conquer her own anger and hurt and reconcile with this man she now barely knows?