The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
This is a book about a young woman and her decisions. Esther has a month-long internship at a prominent magazine in New York City during college. When she returns home, she slowly finds herself not wanting to eat, unable to sleep, and, most troublingly, unable to read or write. Very troubling for an English major who wants to become an author, she thinks. After trying to slit her wrists and hang herself, she finally follows through on a suicide plan. She takes her bottle of sleeping pills and a glass of water down to a hole in the cellar of her mother’s house, crawls in, and takes all the pills.
She awakens in the hospital. This starts her road to recovery. Evidently, after reporting her missing days earlier, her mother had found her while doing something in the cellar. Eventually she is taken to an assylum by her benefactress, Philomena Guinea, whose scholarship is also allowing her to go to college. Ms. Guinea, a famous writer, had a breakdown and went to the same assylum earlier in her life. Eventually with better treatment, Esther feels the bell jar, that she feels has been enclosing and stifling her, lifted away and starts to breathe in the fresh air.
It’s an interesting book. It was just outside of my grasp until she went into the assylum. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t follow the book that well or really get into it. It’s a really good book. It just kept me a little disoriented throughout.
When I found out that it is pretty much her autobiography with details and names fictionalized, it made more sense to me. I don’t know why, but it did. I do wish I had known that about the book before I read it. I think it would have helped. I find it amazing that it’s the only novel Ms. Plath wrote. It’s very well written and interesting. I don’t know how she was worried about it’s reception. But her own mental issues may have had some hand in that.
I can’t believe the book ends like that! The audiobook had a nice little instrumental bit to signal the end of the disc, which I found very helpful. But when it started in after the last line I was going “What?! That’s it?!” I wanted to know what happened! I just hate it when authors leave you hanging like that.
Spring Book Challenge: Read April, May, or June’s book club choice and participate in the discussion.