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Book Reviews of The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar
The Bell Jar
Author: Sylvia Plath
ISBN-13: 9780060930189
ISBN-10: 0060930187
Publication Date: 3/1/2000
Pages: 288
Rating:
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 356

3.9 stars, based on 356 ratings
Publisher: Perennial
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

56 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

Leigh avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 377 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 6
Engagingly written book that explores the mental break-down of a young woman. This is semi-autobiographical, as Plath and her main character have some strong similarities. In my opinion, I think this describes quite well the fusion of mania and depression in a bi-polar person. Not the up-up-up mania, but the irritable and angry mania - a perfect "mixed" state. The title is an analogy to the isolation and separation the main character feels - everyone can see what's in a bell jar, but no one can hear what's going on inside.
reviewed The Bell Jar on
Helpful Score: 6
I can easily see why this is a classic.. what I cannot understand is why it took me so long to read it! And I mean, why I did not read it earlier on in my life, because I finished it in a day.
I saw myself in Esther's downward spiral so vividly, it was frightening! The characters were all so well written, but not so much so that they took away from the main story.. from the all consuming fear of being a nobody.. becoming nothing. Esther's fears consume the reader much as they consumed herself.

I was so engrossed in this book, that the night I finished the read, I dreamed of shock therapy.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
This was a fascinating and beautifully written portrayal of a young woman's nervous breakdown. Based on Plath's own experiences, the story takes you into the thought distortions of someone who is suffering from depression and all the other factors making up a nervous collapse. I particularly enjoyed Plath's use of language. Excellent reading.
iloveyouhecried avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 38 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book is a real classic. The way Plath writes is beautiful and thought provoking. I would imagine that almost everyone can see themselves in the character at one point or another in this book. A must read.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 813 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This semi-autobiographical novel might have been titled A Descent Into the Maelstrom. Well-written and sometimes witty, the first part reminds me somewhat of Cornelia Otis Skinner as she essays through her life in New York. Then it gradually turns dark and disturbing. The heroine goes from Betty MacDonald (The Plague and I) to become a bit of Salingers Holden Caulfield (A Catcher in the Rye) to Styron in his Darkness Visible. Put this book on your short list.
wndrngrl avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 107 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The Bell Jar does not read like a classic - "classic" being the term of very old books with very old language - the description I've always had for the classic genre. This book has a very contemporary writing style, and despite it being written in the 1960s, The Bell Jar's topic of mental illness certainly transcends the generations and can be related by many people no matter when they read the book. I absolutely loved it!
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 12 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
After hearing how iconic this book is, I had to (finally) read it for myself. I did not get hooked until halfway through. The writing is a little hard to follow - with long sentences and jumpy subjects. However, once I got into it, it was hard to put down. You start to feel as if you're there with Esther and in her mind. Plath's writing is so incredibly detailed. You can picture every scene and it feels as if you're a bystander, watching Esther's every move.
reviewed The Bell Jar on
Helpful Score: 1
This is my favorite book of all time (I think the entire family likes it, considering all 3 of us girls own at least one copy..and the Spark Notes). All in all, an excellent read from one of the best female writers of the 20th century.
floridakat85 avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on
Helpful Score: 1
This was a pretty dark book, but I love Sylvia Plath's style of writing, and it tells a great, albeit twisted, story.
Ladyslott avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 113 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
My daughter read this book for a high school honors class, and loved it. I read it many years ago, and remember that itwas very sad. The following description is from Amazon:

Plath was an excellent poet but is known to many for this largely autobiographical novel. The Bell Jar tells the story of a gifted young woman's mental breakdown beginning during a summer internship as a junior editor at a magazine in New York City in the early 1950s. The real Plath committed suicide in 1963 and left behind this scathingly sad, honest and perfectly-written book, which remains one of the best-told tales of a woman's descent into insanity
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 53 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I think everyone knows how good this book is. It's at the absolute front of the line of the depressed female genre, with Prozac Nation coming in second in my opinion.
apachesun avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on
Helpful Score: 1
One of the must reads about the experience of depression in this young woman's breakdown. A classic. Sylvia Plath is one of my absolute favorite authors.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 163 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The Bell Jar is a novel about the events of Sylvia Plath's 20th year, about how she tried to die and how they stuck her together with glue. It is a fine novel, as bitter and remorseless as her last poems, the kind of book Salinger's Franny might have written about herself ten years later, if she had spent those ten years in hell.
reviewed The Bell Jar on
Helpful Score: 1
I am glad to have read this book but it wasn't one of my favorites. The characters (other than the protagonist) were completely interchangeable and thus forgettable. This may accurately reveal how severe depression distorts people into more empty, interchangeable abstractions, but it made for a dull read. Esther (the protagonist) asserted her own intellect several times only by revealing that she got good grades in school - I wish Sylvia Plath had shown me that she was intelligent. I would have accepted the other characters if she had given Esther more substance especially when she was in her deeply internal state. I often read books of a similar vein, I just think it has been done better.

That said, if you are reading the book to catch a glimpse of Sylvia Plath's own struggles it is more interesting. I also feel that had I been alive in the era the book was written I may have appreciated it more. There were several cultural aspects that I didn't really relate to (some I readily admit I had no real clue what she was talking about). I was glad to have another glimpse of how mental illness was handled in recent history, but even so Esther seemed to have a comparably easy/elite experience with it.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 19 more book reviews
This book gets progressively interesting. At first it's hard to get into, but the story eventually drew me into Esther's plight. Sylvia Plath's writing is fantastic.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 21 more book reviews
Great book, cannot believe I didn't read this book in high school.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 94 more book reviews
A very influential novel - the only one published by the brilliant poet Sylvia Plath. Autobiographical and moving.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 8 more book reviews
A classic. Worth a read for anyone who's ever been through a rough patch.
easttexmerry avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 40 more book reviews
A very dark, gloomy book. Maybe to be expected as the author ended up committing suicide. I didn't really find much of interest to this book.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 9 more book reviews
A little difficult to get into in the beginning, but definitely an interesting read.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 20 more book reviews
Overrated, but I enjoyed it in high school.
noisynora avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 130 more book reviews
This book was good - I wasn't sure what to expect. Several times in the Foreward and the Biographical Notes this was compared to Salinger's Catcher in the Rye - from a female perspective. I would agree. Very depressing spiral for someone so young, but worth the read.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 6 more book reviews
About a young woman on her own in NYC as a junior editor and her struggles with her phychological demons. Very well written and interesting.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 174 more book reviews
Took a long time to get into this book. A memoir of the breakdown of an "overachiever." and the pressures that drove her.
reviewed The Bell Jar on
This book drew me in, I had to keep reading to unveil the slow breakdown of Esther's life and mind.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 1198 more book reviews
Plath was an outstanding talent. Her writing keeps the reader moving through this novel with ease. During the first one hundred pages I laughed at her experiences and descriptions as she describes them. Obviously, she had a fine sense of humor. From that point, she launches into the mental fall that she, herself, experienced in college. As the novel unfolds the reader finds herself in the mind of the lead character and sees her environment and interactions through her eyes. I can't help wondering why I did not read this one so much earlier in my life. It's an experience without par. If you have been avoiding this one, don't do so any longer. Read it.
mosdefjess avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 7 more book reviews
I absolutely understand why this book is considered a classic. Sylvia Plath wrote this in a way that really brings you into her head, right alongside her every thought.
leogrrrlll avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 5 more book reviews
Sylvia Plath is a master of leading one down the path of the descent into madness and despair. The voice of the character draws the reader in, in a hypnotic, can't-put-this-down, kind of way.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 3 more book reviews
The book was amazing. I've read it numerious times. Sylvia Plath is an amazing writer. I would reccoment this book to anyone who likes psychology, or memoirs.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 4 more book reviews
Enjoyed it.
katlupe avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 104 more book reviews
The heartbreaking story of a talented young woman who descends into madness.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 2 more book reviews
Interesting, quick read.
reviewed The Bell Jar on
I decided to try and read this when i was going threw a time when I could not get into anything I was trying to read. This snapped my out of it and i finished it in a day or two. Good read.
DesertShaman avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 203 more book reviews
My first Sylvia Plath read. Interesting description of a turn with mental illness. Really showed some of the angst associated with being a young adult in the 50s.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 6 more book reviews
This is an amazing book! If you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up!
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 20 more book reviews
AMAZING CANNOT BELIEVE I DID NOT READ THIS UNTIL I WAS 37
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 146 more book reviews
I really enjoyed this book. It is a book about depression, although it made me laugh in places. I found the writing beautiful. I would highly recommend it.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 9 more book reviews
amazing (I don't think I know anyone who didn't like this book); an essential read
sarahinme avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 58 more book reviews
Absolutely one of my favorite books. It is heavy and a bit crazy but a fantastic read. Sylvia Plath is one of the most fascinating writers, and if you have never read a Plath novel this is a wonderful starter!
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 3 more book reviews
An essential read for all young feminists. I sent it to my 18-year-old great-grandaughter and would recommend it to all my "greats" (27) male and female.
bookgoddessme avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 106 more book reviews
This book was a fairly quick read. An attempt for me to read a "classic". I want to by no means dismiss Plath's powerful life story on any level, but this book did not delight me as I hoped it would. I found it strange, and slow, and a little bit boring even.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 6 more book reviews
Semi-fictionalized account of Sylvia Plath's mental breakdown and what lead up to that time and her stay in a mental institution.
Booknose avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 63 more book reviews
I read this book after it sat in my TBR for many years, I actually sort of wish I had left it there a few more years, not that it wasn't good but it gave me nightmares about being in a mental hospital.. eeek...
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 2 more book reviews
A moving and somewhat harrowing account of a young woman's mental breakdown and suicide attempt.
elliekirkland avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 9 more book reviews
This book is very well written and keeps you interested the whole time. I both enjoyed it and was disturbed it. It is a pretty dark and depressing book, however it does end in a positive light (unless you read Sylvia Plath's biography at the end).
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 42 more book reviews
Book includes drawings by Sylvia Plath.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 52 more book reviews
Excellent, depressing classic!!!
SutterTom avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 191 more book reviews
This extraordinary work--echoing Plath's own experiences as a rising writer/editor in the early 1950s--chronicles the nervous breakdown of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful, but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time.
In her acclaimed and enduring masterwork, Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational -- as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche, The Bell Jar is an extraordinary accomplishment and a haunting American classic.
dragoneyes avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 541 more book reviews
This is a very moving book. At times you seem to of had the same feelings this character had and other times you just wonder where she got her ideas. The is a fun roller coaster ride of a girl slowly dipping into depression.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 47 more book reviews
loved it
cdayzee avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 113 more book reviews
Sylvia Plath was quite talented...
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 162 more book reviews
very good book
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 55 more book reviews
I've registered this on bookcrossing as well.

I've always wanted to read this, and I'm glad I finally had the chance to. It was very interesting considering that it is a fictional sort-of biography.

Some things just didn't make sense to me...alsmost like there was a page missing from the book, but there wasn't, the story just kinda skips and doesn't explain what the heck is going on... The first half of the book just sucked me right in, but once the depression or schizophrenia or whatever really kicked in, I was really lost and a little confused, but I suppose that's the point of telling it from her point of view. I didn't find it depressing at all, not like it's generally made out to be.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 18 more book reviews
Soon to be a movie! A vulnerable young girl wins a dream assignment on a big-time New York fashion magazine and finds herself plunged into a nightmare.
reviewed The Bell Jar on + 32 more book reviews
A vunerable young girl wins a dream assignment on a big-time New York fashion magazine and finds herself plunged into a nightmare. An autobiographical account of Sylvia Plath's own mental breakdown and sucide attempt. THE BELL JAR is more than a confessional novel, its a comic but painful statement of what happens to a woman's aspirations in a society that refuses to take them seriously...a society that expects electroshock to cure the despair of a sensitive, questioning your artist whose search for identity becomes a terrifying descent toward madness.
Stacy1 avatar reviewed The Bell Jar on + 90 more book reviews
A vulnerable young girl wins a dream assignment on a big-time New York fashion magazine and finds herself plunged into a nightmare. An autobiographical account of Sylvia Plath's own mental breakdown and suicide attempt.
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