Welcome back to On This Bookish Day. Where one day of the month I will honour and important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books.
So, on this bookish day:
February 11th- Sylvia Plath Dies, 1963
Sylvia Plath was a poet, novelist and short story writer. She excelled at Smith College, where after her third year, was given the position of guest editor of the Mademoiselle magazine; for a month, in New York City. It was not at all what she expected, but it was the inspiration for her novel The Bell Jar. After her first attempt at suicide, she spent six months in psychiatric care, where she received electric shock therapy. After what was thought to be a good recovery, she returned to school and graduated with highest honours.
Eventually her depression returned and then worsened. After several suicide attempts, she was found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning. She was 30 years old.
And a few random facts:
- At the age of 12 her IQ was recorded at 160, literally a genius.
- Plath had her first poem published in the Boston Herald at the age of 9.
- She worked her way through Smith College even though she had been accepted to Wellesley for free. She worked on a farm doing manual labour.
There are many more interesting facts about her. But after reading about her depression and death I wanted some happier facts. To honour her I chose to read and do a quick review of her only novel The Bell Jar.
I had originally given this book three stars. But after I sat with it a bit and I think let it soak in, I decided to change it to a four star book. This was a short and very powerful book for me. Her writing is phenomenal, it flows beautifully. She has a way of describing that kept me engaged.
The book is about a young woman who goes to New York City for a month on behalf of the magazine she writes for in college. When she comes home from the trip she goes into a depression and is hospitalised…..Sound familiar.
The first half of the book is her experience in New York City, and it was pretty much a let down. The first half of the book honestly didn’t really interest me, she wasn’t whiny or annoying, I just found it kind of boring. I was expecting this thought provoking book about depression. Near the end of her trip you could see some depression beginning to show.
Well that brings me to the second half of the book. You get what seems to be a real look into what depression feels like. The thought process they go through. The parts where she describes the electric shock therapy, seemed very real. Keeping in mind this would have been treatment from the early 50’s, it still sounds pretty traumatic. The second half of the book was what really hooked me, it was seeing depression and treatment form the inside. I won’t give you guys any more because with a short book you can’t say much without spoiling.
I have seen a lot of mixed review for this book, some people just couldn’t seem to identify at all with the main character. The ones that loved it seemed to be people who had suffered from depression themselves in the past. Although I haven’t experienced it myself I do find psychology interesting, so I really enjoyed this book.
I would recommend this to anyone interested in depression, or have perhaps experienced it. Or really anyone who wants to read a modern classic, I would just warn that the first half was slow for me, but I felt it was worth it.