Book Of The Week:

Published in 1963, The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath’s only novel. Plath had the book published in England under the alias “Victoria Lucas,” because she uses pseudonyms to loosely chronicle her life, as well as various other characters who are her dear friends and family members. While the book follows a non-linear path for the most part, it mainly follows the life of Esther Greenwood (the character who is loosely based on Plath), a student living in New York working as a journalism intern. The book specifically recounts the period of normalcy for Esther in New York, and then her eventual downfall into insanity, leading to a continuous cycle of receiving insulin shots and electro-shock therapy to treat her plethora of mental illnesses.The book jumps right into action in New York, where Esther’s internship has her working for a well-known magazine firm. Esther is unable to handle the rigors of living in a high-maintenance city, so she returns home to Boston to live with her mother. She was both a prominent and a straight-A student throughout school. It did her no good because she was getting rejected left and right by everyone she wished to work for. Not only that, but because she graduated from college, she had absolutely no idea what to do with her life. She centered her entire life on education and knew of nothing to do with it. In my opinion, this is what resulted to her mental atrophy. Not counting all of the personal issues with her mother as well as her love interest Buddy Willard. In essence, she delves into a period of depression and is then bounced around from one mental institution to another due to her attempted suicide.The various minor characters jump in and out of the novel, never making a permanent stay. At times, I couldn’t tell from the different chapters and scenes whether Esther’s character is clinically sane or still in the mental institution, or if she was in a current state in the novel or having a flashback. A few scenes in the novel were obscure and didn’t tie into anything, therefore losing the reader. At first, I was a bit frustrated and taken aback because I had to think for a while and reassure myself of what’s going on. But soon, I began to appreciate the unorthodox writing style as I read on and grew comfortable with it.I’ll point out that this novel is very different and a bit darker than the novels that I am more accustomed to consuming; nonetheless, this was still a good read. But what happens to Plath herself is quite grotesque. She reaches her demise by eventually killing herself, sticking her head into an oven and breathing in the gaseous fumes. Soon afterwards, “The Bell Jar” was published in the United States, but under her original moniker, but not without controversy. Plath’s mother tried to stop the book from reaching the United States, and a friend of Plath’s, who is mentioned in the book, makes a successful lawsuit. So if you’re searching for unusual, yet entertaining story, then check out “The Bell Jar,” a controversial novel by an underrated author.