I feel like I needed a post it note on my forehead to constantly remind me to review this book! I have been so bad with keeping up with my reviews lately, and blog posts in general (which may have to be one of my New Years resolutions!) I was excited about reading The Bell Jar, and tackling my last classic of 2015, but I must say I was quite disappointed it…
Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to buy:
About The Book
‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath
Esther Greenwood is at college and is fighting two battles, one against her own desire for perfection in all things – grades, boyfriend, looks, career – and the other against remorseless mental illness. As her depression deepens she finds herself encased in it, bell-jarred away from the rest of the world. This is the story of her journey back into reality. Highly readable, witty and disturbing, The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath’s only novel and was originally published under a pseudonym in 1963. What it has to say about what women expect of themselves, and what society expects of women, is as sharply relevant today as it has always been.
The Bell Jar is regarded as a contemporary classic and is renowned for the account of Esther’s downward spiral into depression; a reflection on Plath’s own life and struggle with mental illness. Set in America, the story follows Esther as she tackles the beginnings of her depression in New York, on a trip she won, including the chance to work at an editing press for a magazine. The second half of the story explores Esther’s life when she gets home from her trip, when her illness is a lot more evident. For me, I found the storyline a bit too dry, and it was very difficult to connect to the characters in any way. There were no obvious signs as to why Esther may be depressed, it was just sprung onto the reader like it just happened overnight.
To be completely honest, I’m not sure I had a favourite character. They were all underdeveloped and really had no personality whatsoever apart from Esther, whose only real trait, you could say, was her mental illness, which shouldn’t be somethings that defines you, but Plath seemed to make it so, I guess maybe in an attempt to convey to the reader how she was feeling. In my opinion, this was a feeble attempt. Due to the lack of development in the characters, they felt very 2D to me, and not coming to life at all on the page.
I knew the book was about the main characters descent into the depths of depression, so it didn’t really keep me guessing or grip me to keep turning the pages in any way apart from to get it over with. That said, if I had to pick my favourite part of the book, it would be when Esther overdosed and crawled up the chimney in her attempt to commit suicide, because this was the only part where I could properly feel how Esther was feeling due to the way it was sensitively written. Apart from this, I was shocked at the lack of emotion this book caused me to feel, especially after knowing what the book was about before I read it.
Would I recommend it? Not as much as I would other books. There were sparks of something within the storyline and the writing, and it could have been a lot more exciting with more development on the character front, but not a great read for me unfortunately.
My Rating: 3 Muffins out of 5
Where To Buy
If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can buy the book (including, but not limited to):
Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)