Synopsis from back cover: A vulnerable young girl wins a dream assignment on a big-time New York fashion magazine and finds herself plunged into a nightmare. An autobiographical account of Sylvia Plath's own mental breakdown and suicide attempt, THE BELL JAR is more than a confessional novel, it is a comic but painful statement of what happens to a woman's aspirations in a society that refuses to take them seriously...a society that expects electroshock to cure the despair of a sensitive, questioning young artist whose search for identity becomes a terrifying descent toward madness.
Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Bantam Windstone, 1981.
How acquired: From a BookCrossing member.
First line: It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York.
My thoughts: I've never been interested in poetry (except when I was a melodramatic teenager/young adult writing my own mournful and depressing poems), so I hadn't read any of Sylvia Plath's work before now. I'm still not particularly interested in her poetry, but this book was beautifully written. Approximately the first half of the book is about Esther and her experiences while spending a month in New York, and the story was captivating. Then the second half of the book begins when it's time for Esther to return home, and suddenly she seems completely lost and sinking into depression. I thought the first half was more interesting, but knowing the book is autobiographical made the second half more poignant. Ms. Plath definitely had a gift with words, and this is a wonderful little book.