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Three women confront the contradictions between art and life, each destined to play the role of a poet's wife. Catherine Blake, the wife of William Blake, a poet, painter and engraver who struggles for recognition in a society that dismisses him as a madman; Nadezhda Madelstam, wife of Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, whose poetry costs him his life under Stalin's terror; and the wife of a fictional contemporary Irish poet, who looks back on her marriage during the days after her husband's death as she seeks to fulfill his final wish.--From publisher website.