The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

Cover ImageFinished 5-27-08, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 1963

“If Mrs. Guinea had given me a ticket to Europe, or a round-the-world cruise, it wouldn’t have made one scrap of difference to me, because wherever I sat- on the deck of a ship or at a street cafe in Paris or Bangkok- I would be sitting under the same glass bell jar, stewing in my own sour air.”  Chapter 15

 This is an semi-autobiographical novel that packs a powerful punch.  Esther is a college sudent who feels isolated from those around her and who is searching for the purpose of her life.  These futile efforts lead her on a downward spiral that she can no longer control. 

Esther landed a prestigious month-long job at a glamour magazine in New York City for the summer.  This opportunity only seemed to fuel her insecurity.  Once home she quickly fell into a depression that led her to contemplate suicide.  She started seeing a psychiatrist who after two visits recommended shock therapy. She tried cutting herself with a razor blade, hanging herself with a scarf, drowning, and finally pills.  The pills landed her in the hospital before being moved to a psychiatric hospital full of girls like her. 

I love the emotional pull of the writing.  I was drawn in, curious, entertained, and moved.  I listened to the first half on cd and read the second half, and I think to appreciate the novel it must be read.  I’ve heard it is being made into a movie with Julia Stiles playing the lead.  Read the book first.  It is only 200 pages and well worth the hours spent reading it.

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