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Letters Home

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,182 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Letters Home represents Sylvia Plath's correspondence from her time at Smith College in the early fifties, through her meeting with, and subsequent marriage to, the poet Ted Hughes, up to her death in February 1963. The letters are addressed mainly to her mother, with whom she had an extremely close and confiding relationship, but there are also some to her brother Warren ...more
Paperback, 502 pages
Published January 1st 1999 by Faber & Faber (first published January 1st 1975)
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When I started this I was not at all sure whether I wanted to read it. I liked The Bell Jar, but it could just have been the time I read it. I do not get her poetry. Cult of the personality stuff makes me uncomfortable. Doesn't she deserve to be laid to rest, anyway. Blah.

BUT! I read the first couple of letters and was sucked in. It seems like she used her letters in a similar way that I use my diary, so I felt as if I was right in her life. And although the events of her life in September 1950
Jun 28, 2007 Lara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, biography-memoir
The disparity between her bleak poetry and these almost desperately cheerful letters to her mother is heartbreaking.
Aug 10, 2009 Jamie rated it really liked it
Mothers/daughter relationships--unless you're part of the duo, you'll never, ever get it. My boyfriend does, my brother doesn't--my father gets us both, but even he doesn't get us "together." As far as I can tell, how do you co-exist with someone you love, admire, hate, hope the best for/worst for? How do you take someone seriously you've known since they were in diapers? And likewise, how do you take someone seriously that you've spent your whole life working to "out do"? Mothers and daughters ...more
Jun 17, 2013 April rated it really liked it
Plath transcribes her life in a typically beautiful way, and it's such a joy to read about her daily thoughts and events of whatever day she found herself on. A lovely book comprised of both harrowing and glistening correspondences between Sylvia and (mostly) her mother. It's very sad to picture Sylvia in despair and thinking of no way to get out of it other than retaining her usual visits to her typewriter, but if she didn't we wouldn't have Letters Home and we'd probably feel that much further ...more
Mar 15, 2014 Sherilyn rated it really liked it
Sylvia Plath's Letters Home juxtaposed against her Unabridged Journals is a fascinating study. The face she showed to Mummy in her letters versus what was truly happening in her life and mind is heartbreaking and reminds me of the importance in my own heavy depression struggle of being as true as I can to all the people in my life, so that they might see me and pull me into light when I start to fail. Her letters are almost manic in their tales of the mad joy she supposedly found while away at c ...more
Katie Dreyer
May 09, 2012 Katie Dreyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Having read these letters in such a short period of a time, I feel somewhat bereft without them. Much like Sylvia's mother must have, I've come to rely on reading a letter from Sylvia almost everyday. This is truly an amazing collection. Nearly all of the letters are written to her mother, Aurelia, who edited the volume and provides introductions to each section. I readily identified with Sylvia, especially in her early years at Smith when she attempted to excel in her classes while maintaining ...more
I've read parts of this book before a very long time ago, so I'm pleased that I've finally gotten around to reading it all the way through now. Sylvia's letters to her family (mainly her mother) exude all the anxiety and excitement of youth, so it was fascinating to get a rare glimpse into Sylvia's personality and how she conducted herself, dealt with her relationships and friendships, and her drive to succeed in her studies. Obviously because she killed herself, the reader can't stop themselves ...more
Manik Sukoco
Dec 30, 2015 Manik Sukoco rated it really liked it
I think these letters seem a lot more intimate than Sylvia's diaries. I found by reading her poems in chronological order alongside these letters home, a clearer rendering of Plaths world, or worlds, surfaces. Her letters home were often painfully cheerful and optimistic, it felt somehow unreal standing up against such dark poetry. I got really sad about halfway through. Very genuine and truthful emotions of a hardworking and ambitious girl. Her passions are too strong and her ideals are too vul ...more
Ramona Ezra
Dec 28, 2015 Ramona Ezra rated it liked it
I read this book because I'm a Plath fan, and the letters cover two periods of her life for which there are no journals to refer to. Plath was honest in her journals: in her letters to her mother, she tries to put a cheerful spin on everything. The discrepancy is mind-boggling. Plath and her mother had an extremely close, symbiotic relationship. The letters cover 10 years. On average, she wrote a letter once a week. There is a subtext to the letters: Plath is listing her achievements, the prizes ...more
Jul 06, 2008 Ruth added it
What mother doesn't want to think that the self a child presents to her in chatty letters home is the child's True Self?
Oct 31, 2010 britt rated it it was amazing
so good, I gained a new respect for her as a writer or person. she seemed to embrace life; she was just fragile.
Toni Wu
Jul 29, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing
This book was melancholy and emotional in a way that Plath's journals, and even a lot of her poetry, was not for me. Perhaps it is the fresh-faced optimism that washes over the early letters and the beginning stages of Plath's marriage, or perhaps it is the truthfulness with which these are recorded and told by Plath's mother, Aurelia, that makes them so thought provoking. Regardless, these letters offer a wholly different perspective on the bitch-goddess and helpless woman that we are inclined ...more
Mar 05, 2016 Dar rated it it was amazing
I love plath,she isn't the best writer but I am not into female writers but I love all her books.especially letters home(madd girls love song)is an isolated poem in this book.A's my remark about her not being the best writer,she most certainly is the first place winner of character,raw material(honest)and a morbidity personality.dark comedy for a dark souls.She is my favorite female writer.
Jan 20, 2008 Tonya rated it really liked it
After reading The Bell Jar, I just had to know more about Sylvia Plath. After finishing The Bell Jar, I felt hopeful for the main character, who is thinly disguised as Sylvia herself. I wanted to know how the hopeful ending turned into suicide. Reading Letters Home felt like a voyeuristic journey into Plath's life, but I was fascinated by her and how she could reach such despair. The end to Letters Home left me questioning why she decided to remove herself from this world. However, I felt like I ...more
Peter Burton
Mar 01, 2016 Peter Burton rated it it was amazing
I knew next to nothing about Sylvia Plath,except her suicide, but once I dipped into this,I had to continue.You feel as though you are in direct contact with her - her ups and downs,her struggles,her successes until her final breakdown - such a waste to end the way it did.However her enthusiasms seem to be over the top,even written to convince her mother that everything was fine.I wonder how much editing was done by her mother.There would of course be some but how much and how did it alter the p ...more
Aug 12, 2012 Beverly rated it it was amazing
I am so glad I read this book. All the biographies, poetry and anything you can get your hands on about Sylvia Plath emphasizes her anger, depression, and insecurities. This was so different. Reading these letters home to her mother from the time she was at Smith until right before her death show so many sides of her personality- her love of her children, her husband, traveling, writing. What struck me most about these letters was her strong spirit. She was determined to make it through the most ...more
Jul 26, 2015 Nikoline rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any Plath fans
Recommended to Nikoline by: all the Plath fans
Is there is one thing Sylvia Plath has taught me, it is that she never fails to entertain with her sad, sad story and her stunning, stunning writing; in my opinion she is without doubt an overlooked treasure when it comes to poetry; I have no idea how she did it, but no matter what she did with words, she always managed to make out the most beautiful picture of emotions and senses.

Letters Home by Sylvia Plath, states a seventeen years old girl who started writing lots of letters home to her mot
Apr 06, 2015 Emma rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
It was a fantastic insight and foray into the thoughts of a person who could use her words so well to describe and depict her feelings and the world around her, allowing me to delve into another person's world; it was delightful to read.
May 25, 2016 Kimberley rated it really liked it
Reading this I just wanted to go back in time and somehow convince Sylvia that she could rest. That life didn't always have to be GOGOGO. She seems so desperate to prove herself that it makes for difficult yet compelling reading.
Apr 26, 2014 Dane rated it it was amazing
Found this in Marjon's library. Remember sitting down to have a skim through and then just being instantly caught up in her letters. Great to read and see how she worked and the stories she told about herself.
Nov 29, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, non-fiction
'Letters Home', a collection of Sylvia Plath's letters to her mother, brother and sponsor, could easily be mistaken for an epistolary novel. The letters are further evidence of Plath's intelligence, ambition and vulnerability, and showcase the development of her poetic voice in a very interesting and personal way. They tell a slightly different side of the story to that which is presented in Plath's own journals and in the biographies of her (the letters are often cheerful and optimistic, even w ...more
Alison Whiteman
Jun 25, 2015 Alison Whiteman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read this in college. Sylvia's struggles with bipolar disorder are not clearly addressed in this book as much as in her private journals.

I could not decide if it was her mental illness that lead to her suicide or her philandering husband, Ted Hughes. Either way, we lost her far too early.

Hughes did publish work after her death but it does not compare to the caliber of talent she shared with the world.

I also wonder about the future collection of letters and journals from authors in this digi
Mar 10, 2014 Olivia added it
Reading this (and the journals, even) next to the comparably TRULY candid poetry is something.
Jul 06, 2012 Kallie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wonder if Aurelia Plath left out any letters that did not reflect her daughter's life as 'Mommy' wanted to see 'Sivvy'? Probably not. Self-censoring (and self-promotion of an ideal, fake self) had clearly become Plath's habit. Growing up in the American Fifties was difficult, what with so much emphasis on the requirment for females to appear perfect: perfectly lovely, perfectly cheery, perfectly whatever. This mother-daughter relationship seems to have been especially relentless in that respec ...more
Ellen Puccinelli
Oct 05, 2008 Ellen Puccinelli rated it really liked it
I read this book about two million times when I was in college and then tried to write my own mother similar letters describing my fabulous college days. I am fascinated by Sylvia Plath, as are so many people -- so talented and beautiful, and such a tragic life in so many ways. Reading these letters, you see so clearly the different aspects of Sylvia's personality and her competing impulses. It seems to me that she tried so hard to live. These letters are some of her best writing in many ways -- ...more
May 28, 2014 Debra rated it liked it
How completely sad Plath was...and she was so hard on herself....
Jul 13, 2015 Mujda rated it really liked it
"Her physical energies had been depleted by illness, anxiety and over-work, and although she had for so long managed to be gallant and equal to the life-experience, some darker day than usual had temporarily made it seem impossible to pursue".
Jan 22, 2009 Gail rated it really liked it
Anyone with a particular interest in the life of Sylvia Plath (like me) would be intrigued by this book. It is a biography but it consists mainly of Sylvia's own letters to family and friends and, as she was such a voracious letter-writer, it is basically an autobiography also. The book gives tremendous insight into her life and eventual demise and is deeply personal. I really enjoyed it, although it left me quite upset.
Sarah Hackley
Aug 13, 2008 Sarah Hackley rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: women writers, and all women interested in a study of real women's lives
Recommended to Sarah by: N/A
The Sylvia Plath depicted in these letters is often an optimistic one. A close read, however, reveals the too-optimistic tones underlying some letters in an attempt to make her mother feel things are better than they are. Overall, a fascinating read - I couldn't put it down! Am anxiously awaiting reading her journals in an attempt to fill in the emotions implied but never explained during her last letters to her mother.
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Sylvia Plath was an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.

Known primarily for her poetry, Plath also wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, The Bell Jar, under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The book's protagonist, Esther Greenwood, is a bright, ambitious student at Smith College who begins to experience a mental breakdown while interning for a fashion magazine in New York. The plot paralle
More about Sylvia Plath...

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“I write only because
There is a voice within me
That will not be still”
“How frail the human heart must be―a mirrored pool of thought.” 522 likes
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