rating: 4 out of 5
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath is one of those books that it seemed like everyone I know has read but I had not. Well, not anymore! I just finished listening to the unabridged Audio CD version narrated by actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. I won’t go too in depth with my review since as I said, most folks that I know read this ages ago. I am a bit of late bloomer. 😉
Plath’s novel is semi-autobiographical and tells the sad and gripping story of Esther Greenwood, a 19-year old overachiever who slowly slips into depression and madness. The story is set in the 1950’s in New York City and Boston. Esther is living in the time before the Women’s Rights movement and part of her angst is due to how stifled she feels by society and the gender role that women of the time had to fill. She is unsure of where she should go next with her career, education and love life.
I loved Plath’s writing as it had wry humor woven through it. She did an excellent job of capturing the inner turmoil that one can go through. Gyllenhaal was an stellar choice as narrator. I was completely able to buy her as the character Esther. It wasn’t like she was just reading the book, it was as if she was playing the role of Esther Greenwood.
I read this book as part of the 1% Well Read Challenge (reading 10 books from the 1001Books to Read Before you Die list). It’s my second book for the challenge… so 2 down 8 to go! I have until February 28, 2009 to complete this challenge.