Richard Anthony Morris is a 28 year old man about to embark on a 2 year expedition with a rough and ready crew. To search the Himalayas for the Off switch to his sexiness. So that, at long last, he may go back to wearing regular shirts, be allowed back to Milan, New York and Japan. And most importantly, no longer be too sexy for his hat.
It’s rare that I find myself unable to stop talking about a book that I’ve just read. But that’s what has happened to me with ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath. I even found myself quoting it in a meeting with a manager recently, telling her that I found myself wanting to grab all the figs.
I was first told about Sylvia Plath quite some time ago, and for a long time she sat there on the edges of my peripheral. Until it came time for me to pick a book of poems to read and I found myself gravitating towards Ariel. Ariel is a collection of poems written by Sylvia Plath and printed posthumously. And it is remarkable; I soared through it, missing train stations and bus stops due to my head facing the page.
And with The Bell Jar, Sylvia has managed to do it yet again.
The novel itself is a fictionalisation of Sylvia Plath’s own life and struggles as she navigated life in her twenties… The book deals with the expectations of young women in the fifties, suicide and treatment of those suffering with ill mental health. All of these topics should make you shy away, but Plath’s writing draws you in.
It’s one of the only books where I found myself annoyed that I was going to finish it too quickly, yet couldn’t help but turn the page.
In the start of ‘The Bell Jar’ we follow Esther Greenwood while on an internship at a fashion magazine in New York City during the summer of 1953, spending the summer away from her mother, her family home and her de facto fiancé Buddy Willard. Even Esther admits that this should all equal happiness.
“I was supposed to be having the time of my life.”
And from here we travel with Esther on this long road that will take her from the bright lights of New York City, back to Boston. Back home with her Mother and unsure about life. We follow her beyond this, but I really don’t want to ruin the book.
The Bell Jar is a book that will stay with me for some time and I would recommend it to anyone.
Plath is said to be a feminist writer, and this book does cover some feminist issues. These are mainly the issues regarding the limitations that some women faced when thinking about their future in the 1950’s and beyond. But like I said earlier I am a massive fan of Sylvia Plath’s writing, so even though this is a predominately feminist novel I didn’t feel excluded (as a man in his late twenties/nearly thirties) but, instead, felt I was able to relate. My copy is underlined a great deal where I found lines that I wanted to always remember.
“But when it came right down to it, the skin of my wrist looked so white and defenceless that I couldn’t do it. It was as if what I wanted to kill wasn’t in that skin… but somewhere else, deeper, more secret, and a whole lot harder to get.”
This book is dark, don’t get me wrong, as I said earlier, the text deals with suicide in a forthright manner and holds nothing back. Maybe that’s what I liked about it, the raw honesty, the open pain of it all that’s so hard to find in real life. Honesty is hard, so people generally confine it to their loved ones. And even then, it’s always avails itself of an edit before being spoken. But it’s through spaking with raw, honest language, that people find they can easier connect and find common ground and maybe that’s why I read this book morning, noon and night, maybe that’s why I would read it while doing the dishes (audiobook, I didn’t want to soak the pages) and maybe my being able to connect to the main character is the reason I’m probably going to read it again. Which if you knew me you would know isn’t what I do with novels. It’s been weeks since I finished it and I’m still talking about to anyone that will listen and I finish this by saying nothing different to what I have said before. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it will stay with me and I think that you should read it also.
“I felt sorry when I came to the last page. I wanted to crawl between those black lines of print the way you crawl through a fence, and go to sleep under that big beautiful green fig tree.”
So, what do you think of my thoughts on ‘The Bell Jar’? Have I missed the mark?
What book have you read that you couldn’t stop talking about?