Book Review: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath
Oh, The Bell Jar. We have a long history. When I was at uni, it was my close friend's favourite book. My boyfriend at the time recommended it to me. When I finally got round to reading it, I was underwhelmed to say the least. I could barely remember the plot when I had finished, which is part of the reason I decided to re-read it, 5 or so years after I first tried. I was convinced that I'd think differently. Did I? No. Not at all.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath's only novel, follows a year in the life of Esther Greenwood as she descends into mental illness, resulting in suicide attempts. On the surface, Esther has everything- a successful internship at a fashion magazine in New York, a great social life with many friends- and yet she can't stop depression overwhelming her. The poignancy of the novel is that Plath herself committed suicide just a month after it was published. 

For me, the main problem is that I didn't relate to Esther at all. Although I've had my own (well-documented by now!) issues with mental health, I still found it very difficult to connect to hers. Of course, all mental health problems are different but there was nothing in the way hers were described that were relateable. Though, then again, perhaps my feeling of confusion was intentional in order to feel as disorientated as Esther throughout her breakdown.

It goes without saying that The Bell Jar is quite beautifully written and certainly does a good job of conveying how anybody can be susceptible to mental health problems, regardless of how amazing their life may seem from the outside. Unfortunately, I just couldn't find anything memorable or gripping about it. 


  1. This is a really useful review! I've had The Bell Jar on my bookshelf for over a year and never got round to reading it. I studied Plath's poetry at A Level and I'm intrigued to read her novel - I just need to get round to it! xx

  2. I've never read this but would like to give it a try, see if I can find anything relatable! xo
    amber love

  3. It's a shame you didn't like it. It took me a while to get into the book but I absolutely loved it in the end - even more so than her poetry!

  4. Oh, same here! I first read The Bell Jar when I was very low and I remember thinking, "This is supposed to be depression? This rings NO bells with me." I tried again a few years ago but it still did nothing for me; I didn't relate to Esther at all.

    *whispers* I also do not get The Catcher in the Rye.

  5. It's a shame that you didn't connect with the book. It's always been one of my favourites. It's just incredibly touching and I agree the connection with Plath suicide makes it even more so.
    Lots of love,
    SilverSpoon London

  6. My friend is doing her advanced higher english dissertation on this book and she loves it! That said, the teacher hates it haha. I've personally never read it and I can't say I ever see doing so either x

    holly la beau

  7. I bought this years ago and I couldn't get past the first 10 pages, it wanted me to rip my hair out. I'm not sure whether I could give it a go again, I don't even know where it is...

    Dannie x

  8. Oh I love The Bell Jar. I have suffered from depression in many years and I relate to Esther because I was just as disorientated as her. While reading it I remembered the feeling of not being able to really feel anything as if I was not real. The book has actually made it possible for me to remember some of my feelings from those months when I was on my lowest.

  9. I did my English on this book and it's a difficult read but i re-read it a couple of times and eventually I connected with it, it took me a while though

  10. This is one of the ones on my To Read list this year :) I didn't really know anything about so it's interesting to read your thoughts! Very intrigued now. Might make that my next one after Tess!! :) xx

    Little Miss Katy | UK Lifestyle Blog

  11. This has been on my 'to-read' list for ages now but I have always put it off. Reading your synopsis, I think this is a good time to read it for me and will definitely add it to my next book haul.

  12. I've read this twice too and was also underwhelmed but her real life has always interested me and I think that added to the book for me while I was reading it!

    Chelle x


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