Goodnight, Vivienne, Goodnight by Steven Carroll
From one of our finest writers – winner of the Miles Franklin, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Prime Minister’s Literary Award – comes a wistful and emotional story that imagines a happier ending for the mercurial and complicated Vivienne Haigh-Wood, first wife of the great poet, TS Eliot.
London, June 1940. With help from friends, Vivienne Haigh-Wood, the wife of celebrated poet TS Eliot, is about to effect a daring escape from Northumberland House, the private insane asylum where she has been held for the past four years. Her family, and most particularly her husband, think she’s insane – and maybe she has been, in the past, Vivienne thinks, mad with love, that is, but she is starting to finally feel like herself again.
There is an old law, Vivienne has been told, that if a person can break out of an asylum and stay free for thirty days, proving they can look after themselves, they can’t make you go back. But closing in on Vivienne is the young Detective Sergeant Stephen Minter, a man with a hidden past of his own, who has orders to track her down…
With Goodnight, Vivienne, Goodnight, Steven Carroll completes his critically acclaimed, award-winning and much-loved Eliot Quartet. This novel is a poignant, deeply felt and intensely moving novel of beginnings, endings and reinvention, about the aftermath of a marriage and the reassembling of a broken woman. A delicate dance between what was and what might have been, between fact and fiction, the novel tells a daringly revisionary story of Vivienne – TS Eliot’s first wife, the ‘mad woman in the attic’ – imagining a wholly different and entirely satisfying ending to her story.