The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar is about a young woman, Esther, from Boston who seems to have a lot of prospects but doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. This troubles her a lot because it seems to be such a contrast from everyone around her who knows exactly what they want to do, and what’s more they’re doing it. Esther also has a lot of reservations about what the future holds for her. The time this was written (it was first published in 1963) it was still very much expected for a woman to get married and have children and usually remain a housewife. This does not appeal to Esther, she seems to be very indifferent about anything that the future holds for her.
It isn’t long before Esther spirals into depression. This book was such a real and frank insight into a depressed and suicidal mind. Especially as the author, Sylvia Plath, suffered from years of mental health problems and eventually ended her own life, not long after the book was published. As a reader, you feel the authenticity of the character’s mindset. It is not being dressed up or made to be interesting for the reader, it is merely telling it like it is. Knowing that Sylvia Plath took her own life, it really made me feel everything throughout the book on a deeper level.
I did not find the book as emotional as some readers seem to; purely for the fact that for me, Esther’s depression was so empty and numbing that it almost made me feel that too. I would definitely recommend this book, for its direct and unapologetic insight into depression if not for anything else. It was also intriguing and felt almost intrusive reading at times, due to the fact that for Sylvia Plath it was very real and personal.
Disclaimer – Renee Knight
This book focuses on Catherine, who one day finds a novel on her bedside and as she reads on she finds out it is about her. Not only that but it is about a deep dark secret that she has hidden for years. The story involves her finding out who wrote this book about her and why; what exactly is her dark secret and the consequences as those closest to her find out her secret as well.
The story was told through two different perspective and it does take a little while to figure out who is who in the story and the parts they each play.
I found the premise of really original and interesting and my curiosity definitely had me turning the pages. The idea of reading a book about yourself, is very sinister and intriguing at the same time. The elusiveness throughout the novel, as to what Catherine’s actual secret is definitely built the suspense. At times, as the reader you think you have realised the secret but it turns out not to be the case. All of this draws you in and makes you want to read on and find out.
I have to say though, for me personally, when the truth comes out you feel like as the reader you have been tricked into believing one thing and then you’re being told that something completely opposite is true. I felt a bit let down by the last part of the book, because of how much the story had drawn me in from the beginning.
The whole concept of the story was original and the thriller and suspense aspects of the book made it very much worth the read.