I was supposed to be having the time of my life. When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer.
But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control.
She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women's aspirations seriously.
The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath's only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas.
The novel is partially based on Plath's own life and descent into mental illness, and has become a modern classic.
The Bell Jar has been celebrated for its darkly funny and razor sharp portrait of 1950s society and has sold millions of copies worldwide.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 240 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 03/01/2013
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780571268863
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Review by john257hopper
This was the author's only novel, published shortly before she committed suicide at the age of 31 in 1963. It is semi-autobiographical and details the progressive mental disintegration of Esther Greenwood until she has to enter a mental institution, suffering what may be an extreme form of clinical depression and/or a broader personality disorder (many of the features she describes in the early stages feel exactly like classic symptoms of depression to me). The course of Esther's deterioration seems to point to a very downbeat ending, especially bearing in mind the author's own life, but then Esther recovers after receiving electrotherapy and at the very end seems about to move out of her institution into the world outside. The novel brings across effectively how difficult it is for the mentally ill person in their own enclosed space to communicate what they are going through to the outside world, hence the title. 3.5/5