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Sunny side of a sad life

London, Sept. 18: Two lovers entwined, a couple frolicking in the waves and basking with joyous abandon in the sunshine — images not usually associated with the poet Sylvia Plath.

The controversy over her depression and death has long since overshadowed more nuanced memories of her life and, especially, her marriage to Ted Hughes, a fellow poet.

But a forthcoming film, starring Gwyneth Paltrow, portrays another side of Plath and suggests happier times.

The film depicts a sunny, carefree woman far removed from the tormented, melancholy figure of popular myth.

Plath’s relationship with Hughes has been the subject of fierce debate ever since her suicide, at the age of 30, in 1963.

The celebrated American-born poet, who gassed herself in an oven while her children slept in the next room, has been a poster-girl for feminists, who have cast her as the downtrodden victim of a philandering husband.

But Sylvia, which co-stars Daniel Craig as Hughes, appears to challenge that view, portraying the couple’s relationship as passionate and tender.

Plath and Hughes met at Cambridge University and married in 1956.

In 1998, Hughes published a collection of poems, The Birthday Letters, that gave his version of what is widely regarded as one of the most tragic literary love stories of the past century.

Three years later, a set of previously unpublished letters by Hughes revealed that he believed anti-depressant pills were to blame for his wife’s suicide.

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