The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

What a sad little book this is. At the end of it, in the kindle version, a short bio of the author appears which shows just exactly how much this novel is autobiographical and why she didn’t want this published in the US at the time (so as not to offend any relatives/friends)

The novel starts out with Ester’s internship at a glossy magazine in New York and follows her downward spiral into full blown depression when she returns home….. eventually leading to her suicide attempt.

Esther’s voice had a very monotone; robotic feel which I am sure was done on purpose to demonstrate the debilitating effects of sinking deeper and deeper into depression.

The writing was not mind-blowing and I think this author’s talents as a poet does not come across very successfully in this novel. BUT there were moments of brilliant writing as demonstrated by my favourite passage:

“From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out.

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”