The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath was recommended to me many years ago, but I never thought to pick it up. Truth is, I thought it was famous because the author killed herself. Part of me also thought it was a girl’s book, in the sense that it written for a female audience.
Recently, I was ordering books on Amazon and decided to get this one as well. These days I have an affinity for books about unsavory and troubled people. So, the tumultuous life of the author and her death made it more interesting.
Troubled people tend to be fascinating. A troubled life isn’t usually as boring as a normal life, which is why they inspire books. The idiosyncrasies of peoples lives are what draws me to books like The Bell Jar.
In the beginning, the book starts out slow and whiny. I get the sense that Plath is using it as an opportunity to get some things off her chest.
Some of the problems she talks about, I can’t relate to. My bias, as a guy, I don’t have the experiences of a woman. Especially the problems Esther seems to have.
The book gets better around the half way point. Esther’s real problems start to show, and this is where the book gets interesting. The pace speeds up and I was much more engaged and focused on reading. The second half took half the time it took to read the first half.
Esther’s life is changing from normal too chaotic. The struggles of a student, turn into the struggles of someone with severe depression. At this point, it is much deeper into her life than you’d expect from earlier in the novel.
I won’t go into any more details because it is definitely worth reading. For anyone interested in depression, people, and well-written books.
This Book Is Amazing
I particularly noticed the quality of the writing. But don’t take that lightly, any published book must be good, so this was a step above many others. Also, at times there is a sense of poetry in the words that shines through.
There is an urgency that comes along with it. This could be the author’s emotion on the page, or the connection I made with the character, either way, it is strong.
This book gave me a perspective on the experiences of women that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. When I say this, I mean it was insightful beyond what I’d expect to get out of a book.
The back cover says, “Celebrated for its darkly funny and razor-sharp portrait of a society which refuses to take women’s aspirations seriously.” When I first saw this I didn’t believe it, but the book has proven me wrong.
This is an amazing book that is well worth reading. I recommend it for the quality of writing and insights into the world of women and depression.