Other Sorrows, Other Joys

Other Sorrows, Other Joys

The Marriage of Catherine Sophia Boucher and William Blake

Book - 2003 | 1st ed.
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This is the imagined life of a woman who really lived in the late Eighteenth Century - Catherine Sophia Boucher, called Kate - wife of the English poet and artist, William Blake. If you read between the lines of his poetry and letters, this is a story you might find. Other Sorrows, Other Joys weaves fact and fiction to tell the story of Kate's search for identity in the shadow of a man who can "see a World in a Grain of Sand and Heaven in a Wild Flower." Conventional, innocent Kate struggles to understand the world around her in the midst of her visionary husband's free-thinking crusades for freedom in religion, in politics, in love. Janet Warner's original novel dramatically recreates the story of a poet and his spiritual companion and the mystic visions that haunt them both throughout their lives.

As Kate works as Blake's assistant, printing and coloring his designs, she witnesses the psychic powers that distract William from earning a living. She endures the loss of a long-awaited child, Blake's fascination for gifted women, and his frightening trial for treason. Through Kate's eyes, we meet a parade of people prominent in 18th Century artistic circles during the time of the French Revolution, such as the feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, Swiss painter Henry Fuseli, and the publisher Joseph Johnson - people whose intertwined lives were as unconventional as any Bohemians of a later time. Amidst these turbulent personal and political events, Warner reveals the compelling drama of Kate and William's marriage that survived it all.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2003.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780312314408
Branch Call Number: WARNE
Characteristics: vii, 371 p.


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Jun 15, 2007

If there are people who know less about William Blake than I did, I have not met them yet. However, I'm a bit more informed now, thanks to Warner's very insightful and intense novel, written primarily in the voice of Wm.'s wife, Kate. I found myself thinking as I read this that Janet Warner may have been channeling Kate Blake, I felt that much in the presence of this wonderful, caring and intelligent woman. It was such a perfect way (for me, anyway) to begin a study of Blake, who is such a towering and often obscure figure, and one so very singular as to make me nervous at times. But Kate's there, mob cap on her head, running the press beside William, considering finances when William can't be bothered. In Warner's telling, theirs seems a marriage of Air and Earth.

I was saddened to learn that Janet Warner passed away last year, but was comforted at the thought of her being able to enjoy the satisfaction of having produced this fine and original work, in addition to all her other accomplishments. It is a wonderful book, she got what feels like just the right tone for Kate, and wove in all the things large and small, about her life and his, and theirs together.

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