The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

4.03 (731,533 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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I was supposed to be having the time of my life.

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into serious depression as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take her aspirations seriously.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath's only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel is partially based on Plath's own life and descent into mental illness, and has become a modern classic.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 126 x 198 x 14mm | 173g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 0571226167
  • 9780571226160
  • 1,844

Review Text

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. Now strikingly repackaged for the key teenage market.
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Review quote

"'In looking at the madness of the world and the world of madness [this book] forces us to consider the great question posed by all truly realistic fiction: what is reality and how can it be confronted?' New York Times Book Review"
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About Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and studied at Smith College. In 1955 she went to Cambridge University on a Fulbright scholarship, where she met and later married Ted Hughes. She published one collection of poems in her lifetime, The Colossus (1960), and a novel, The Bell Jar (1963); Ariel was published posthumously in 1965. Her Collected Poems, which contains her poetry written from 1956 until her death, was published in 1981 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
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Rating details

731,533 ratings
4.03 out of 5 stars
5 37% (273,252)
4 37% (270,374)
3 19% (139,998)
2 5% (35,504)
1 2% (12,405)

Our customer reviews

I loved it. Plath is such a talented writer, it's scary how she went on from being perfectly normal to a clinically depressed person in matter of a month or two.. It's a Semi-Biography, so this book gives you an insight on how suicidal people think and their prospective on things. Personally I think it can be a dangerous book if you start applying Sylvia's experiences to your own life, it can lead you to suicidal thoughts, but it's definitely a great read. I enjoyed more
by Hassan AlSheyab
I have just finished this book by Sylvia Plath a talented author and poet and have to say I really enjoyed it. Although the content was quite harrowing to follow, A young girl in the throws of a nervous breakdown. Her thoughts on her boyfriend who she has just learned cheated on her and her role in everyday life, which she feels is not so rosy. A young girl who just can't cope with the changes in her life. It did remind me a bit of Catcher in the Rye at the start, a young person trying to come to terms with growing up in 50s America. I felt that I was drawn along with her journey downwards into her isolation and suicidal thoughts and feelings. When she is hospitalised and given shock therapy. Drawn also, as she starts to come out of the blackness and back to normality. The notes at the end of the book show that she went on to be married and have children, but it seems she was never really free of the feelings of isolation and it is sad to hear that she did eventually take her own life. So sad that so many gifted and talented people suffer from some form of mental instability. Not a light read certainly but a worthwhile one definitely!show more
by Penny Cunningham
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