The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

“I felt very still and empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”

Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar is another book that was recommended to me, and as soon I bought it I just couldn’t wait to start!

It’s easy to read: engaging and interesting the whole way through – sometimes I can find books lag a bit in the middle, but this one really didn’t!. Consequently, I read it in four days – whilst on a busy holiday in Rome. It has a great plot that is easy to follow but still extremely intriguing. But I think it is Plath’s use of language and vivid descriptions that make this novel so captivating – making it so easy to imagine the setting and action.

I loved reading her gorgeous poetic language – you can definitely tell she is a poet! (And this also really made me want to read some of her poetry at some point.) But other than this, it was also surprisingly humorous. I really didn’t expect it to be, but there were comic moments throughout, even through the darker moments. This is definitely not a light novel; it’s described on the blurb of my copy as about a young woman called Esther whose ‘life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into a depression and eventually a suicide attempt’, so naturally the biggest theme within it is mental illness. Plath deals with the subject in a sensitive but direct way – it still tends to be quite a taboo subject in society today, and even more so when she wrote it 50 years ago. The novel doesn’t skirt around this theme, but instead dives straight into it without a second thought. Yet, somehow, she still manages to keep a delicacy about it all. I think it’s a topic that shouldn’t be approached nervously, and in fact should be spoken about more, and Plath proves this.

Also, I absolutely loved the ending of this book. Leaving a conclusion unknown usually annoys me, but for some reason I really liked that about this ending – it felt right, just what was needed, and fitted with the rest of the novel perfectly.

This is unquestionably a book I will return to in the future!

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My 50th Anniversary edition

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