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La grande estate. Sylvia Plath a New York, 1953

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  1,876 ratings  ·  281 reviews
Pain, Parties, Work by Elizabeth Winder is a compelling look at a young Sylvia Plath and the life-changing month that would lay the groundwork for her seminal novel, The Bell Jar.

In May of 1953, a twenty-one-year-old Plath arrived in New York City, the guest editor of Mademoiselle’s annual College Issue. She lived at the Barbizon Hotel, attended the ballet, went to a Yanke
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Paperback, Biblioteca della Fenice, 263 pages
Published March 12th 2015 by Guanda (first published January 29th 2013)
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3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,876 ratings  ·  281 reviews


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Julie Ehlers
This is a great idea for a book—the whole Mademoiselle college board thing, and Sylvia Plath’s place in it, was fascinating to me, and it was so interesting to hear what the other guest editors had to say about the experience. Plus, I’d never given much thought to the smart, literary, career-minded (admittedly privileged) college girls of the 1950s (i.e., before the women’s movement), and how difficult it must have been for them to realize that all of their aspirations were pretty much going to ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
The experience of a book is shaped by the reader: what she feels, thinks, values, believes, has experienced, wants to experience. Some books come with more baggage than others.

Sylvia Plath is a figure for whom I have intense, tangled feelings; any book I read by her or of her is seen through the many layers of experience and emotion I've tied to Plath. More than ten years ago, I wrote a sort of reflection piece on a non-book blog about The Bell Jar, trying post-college to untangle my feelings ab
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Megan Richardson
Owl You Need Is a Good Read Review:
The best way to describe this book is: The Bell Jar, but non-fiction. Pain, Parties, Work tells the story of Sylvia Plath during the month of June, 1953 and her internship at Mademoiselle magazine in New York City. That month in NYC was exciting, but with a manic foreboding.

This book bugged me, its set-up was extremely tangential. We’d randomly be talking about someone Plath dated once or twice, then jump backward to her feelings about her mother, then forward
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Lindsey Gates-Markel
"She simply loved food the way she loved so much of the material world: cashmere, caviar, beer--all of it. She loved the colors, wrote in her diary of yellow corn chowder, tuna salad laden with mayonnaise, the dazzling yellow of an egg yolk, the glint of peacock blue inside a raw oyster."

A delicious, beautiful book of vignettes detailing twenty-year-old Sylvia Plath's month in New York working as a guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine, a time she later fictionalized in The Bell Jar. I re-read
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Terry
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, non-fiction
This is a...bizarre book.

I think it is an awesome idea--I'm surprised no one had done it yet--and I respect the author's efforts in tracking down the other editors and interviewing them. There are some good insights to Plath's personality and relationships (and the difficulties of both): that she had a hard time with "healthy" friendships because she was constantly mining people and events for character and plot for potential stories; she presented a different persona to different people, so of
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anaïs
Aug 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"That if you stand still for a moment the world keeps moving, that sometimes no head will turn despite shiny hair and freshly applied lipstick. That many of your peers will want less than you, and that you will envy them for that."

This book follows in greatly detailed short chapters/vignettes June 1953, the month Sylvia Plath lived in New York City and was one of twenty guest editors chosen to work on the college issue of Mademoiselle. It follows social interactions, dates, outfits, shopping tri
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Leesa
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to me by my trusted BFF Lindsey Gates-Markel and Gates-Markel didn't lie to me. All truth, this is one of the most beautiful books I've ever had the pleasure to read. "(Tonight I lost my red bandeau with all the redness in my red little heart), red linen ballet flats in Paris, and lots of lipstick, always red." I love reading abt Sylvia's red lipsticks and dresses and the cocktails and boys and parties. "They shop wearing camel coats, filling their carts with Campbell's soup, orange ...more
Jason
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
A fascinating glimpse into one summer of Sylvia Plath's life, remembering her as the vivacious and bright young woman she was. The story of Sylvia Plath's work at the magazine Mademoiselle - which provided inspiration for The Bell Jar - this biography is told through memories of other guest editors, her mother, as well as source material from her journals.
An illuminating and inspiring, yet of course sad, view into a life of someone immensely talented, who wanted to truly see life.
Joe Valdez
Dec 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
This biography of poet Sylvia Plath focuses on the events depicted in roughly one half of her novel The Bell Jar (published posthumously in the U.S. in 1971). I picked it up as supplemental reading only and would recommend it to those who are fans of the novel or interested in learning as much as they can about Plath's life. In retrospect, I felt that most of what Plath needed the casual reader to know is covered quite well in The Bell Jar.

Winder's research reveals there was good reason for Ted
...more
Sian Lile-Pastore
I love reading on trains. I read the whole of this book on a train journey from Cardiff to Leeds and I think reading a book in one go kinda changes how you feel about it - it makes the whole experience more intense and involving. Anyway, I really enjoyed this, and it only drops a star because it repeated itself on occasion. This tells the story of Sylvia Plath during the month she spent working for mademoiselle in New York when she was 21 - the period that she writes about in The Bell Jar - the ...more
Becca
Jul 05, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Someone else reviewing this wrote that they were unclear who this book was meant for, a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. I've read a lot of Plath's poetry, The Bell Jar, and her journals, have seen Sylvia and read Janet Malcolm's The Silent Woman, so I came to this book with a fairly decent idea of the facts of Sylvia Plath's life, experiences, and character. Winder writes at the start of the book that she is trying to dispel the notion of Plath as Depressive Poetess, but what person ...more
Barbara A.
Mar 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Intoxicating. Made me want to find and re-read my dog eared copIes of Ariel and The Bell Jar. Not to mention Mary McCarthy's The Group. Kaleidoscopic views of NYC fashion and literary scenes. A side benefit...immersing myself in the clothes and cosmetics and scents of the 50's and 60's. Where's my tube of Cherries in The Snow? My short white kid gloves? My kitten heels?
Diana
Aug 01, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked the snapshot view of Sylvia and her fellow magazine editors lives in 1953 NYC however the format of the book felt disjointed, random, and contradictory at times ie. Sylvia's view on sex...she go from prude to blasé about it?
Paris
Jul 29, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading the first ten pages of this book, I wanted to marry it and proudly birth silver lame cocktail dresses and green gabardine overcoats together. I felt sure that it would be a five-starrer. By page 35, I was contemplating a legal separation (taking at least 50 percent of the wardrobe memories with me, of course). After that, I would have nothing less than a quickie divorce.

The problems with maintaining our union after vows that promised endless pages of visionary mid-century couture d
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Melissa
The Bell Jar, non-fic. This is certainly an interesting concept for a writer to attempt; a recreation of the month that Sylvia Plath worked for Mademoiselle in New York, a month that she later turned into a novel. I’d guess that it’s just plain difficult to make one month in anyone’s life book-length, and there’s a lot here that feels like padding.

There’s a chapter called “A Dictionary of Adolescence” that’s comprised of an alphabet wherein letters correspond with something Plath-related, howev
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Amanda Kay
Full disclosure: I won this one in a GoodReads First Reads Giveaway.

As a whole, this is a very insightful read. When most of us think of Sylvia Plath, we think of head in an oven, recluse, dark, and suicidal. Therefore, it's very off putting to read a book that centers on Plath when she was happy - or somewhere close to happy. Contrary to popular belief, Plath was not some emo child in her teens, she was your average 50s young lady, excited for dates and dances, but with a desire to leave her ma
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Rachel Elizabeth
This was a phenomenal biography. As someone who was already a massive fan of Sylvia Plath, I was admittedly biased going into this book, but I honestly hadn't gotten my hands on a biography nearly as grand as Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life in months. I adore biographies and this one was incredibly original due to the extra information Winder. Because she added subsections to this biography, she was really able to help establish personal history as well as extra historical information alo ...more
Bert Zee
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Sylvia Plath was not the incarnation of the mad, obsessed poetess. Sylvia was a golden girl who knew more about living than most."

What a joy this book was to read! Everything that I've read about Sylvia Plath has been focused on either her poetry or her later life as a depressed, suicidal, mad woman, so reading this book which is all about her time as a carefree, fun and frivolous college girl was really quite a treat. Anyone who has read The Bell Jar (my all time favourite novel and one that h
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Freesiab (Bookish Review)
PAIN, PARTIES, WORK Is about the summer Sylvia Plath lived and worked in NYC in 1953. The end culminating in her suicide attempt and writing THE BELL JAR. If you're looking to read a deep look into depression, this is not that book. This book is about the Sylvia that loved fashion and wanted to be a fashion magazine editor. What her social life was like. It uses her writings and interviews from the women she lived with. It's done quite beautifully and a lovely new look at Plath. It may not be th ...more
Christina
Things that make me like Sylvia Plath a little less:
if she reincarnated, she would like to be a seagull.
Gitte - Bookworm's Closet
May 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in 50s fashion and culture, feminism and Sylvia Plath
Sylvia rarely flattered the men in her life – she envied them. She was far more likely to compete with a man than a woman.



The Beginning: Her room was the size of a decent closet – beige walls trimmed in maroon paint.

I’ve been dying to read this books since I first heard of it. I adore The Bell Jar, I think it’s an amazing story. To those of you who haven’t read The Bell Jar or who don’t remember it very well, here’s a recap: It’s Sylvia Plath‘s semi-autobiographical novel of a young woman who b
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Debbie Robson
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At a quick glance this book is all about fashion, makeup, parties, interviewing celebrities - in short being one of 20 female guest editors for Mademoiselle magazine in June 1953. Except of course it isn’t. It is much more.
Not only does Pain, Parties, Work offer real insights into the demands made on the young Sylvia Plath but it it chronicles the conflicting messages that young women were bombarded with by the media and by social pressure in the mid Twentieth Century.
“Sylvia was in a hurry to
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Geena
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Winder's "Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953" chronicles Plath's one month long stint as an intern at Mademoiselle magazine in New York city. In her thoughtful, beautiful prose, Winder provides insight to Sylvia's dynamic personality. Sylvia Plath is often pigeon-holed as a doomed, tragic, depressed poetess, but fortunately Winder outwardly dismisses that convention, presenting the "true" Sylvia to readers, one who was capable of understanding and thriving in gr ...more
Serena
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder is atmospheric and an indulgent retrospective of the lives of Mademoiselle‘s summer guest editors, who were hand picked from a bunch of college essays and pieces submitted by college women. The magazine was not only known for its fashion and celebrities, but also for the writing it published from heavyweights like Dylan Thomas and Truman Capote. Additionally, the magazine published its college issue. “Sunday at the Mi ...more
Andie
May 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not quite sure what there is left to say about Sylvia Plath, but rest assured, even though her bones have been picked pretty clean, I will probably read it. This book deals with the summer Plath spent in New York as a guest editor for Mademoiselle magazine.

Author Elizabeth Winder does an excellent job of evoking the mid-century atmosphere of the city along with the stultifying expectations of young women - even those who were bright and ambitious. Given Plath's fiery ambitions and given limi
...more
Cristina
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oof, I loved this book. (Maybe minor spoilers?) I've been waiting for a book like this, actually, since The Bell Jar has always intrigued me. While Winder seemed tempted to write an overly positive portrayal of Sylvia, she brought in voices from Sylvia's Mademoiselle trip which really gave a through and varied description of her. Winder also included a lot of "fun facts" about Sylvia's favorite things and habits. The book, overall, painted a lovely picture of Sylvia: a girl who loved avocados, h ...more
Quinn Collard
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
Sylvia Plath is my favourite author, and as such I've read a number of books about her. But this was unlike any of the others, because it focused on such a specific period of time. It frustrates me how much her death overshadows every other element of her, so it was refreshing to read a book that didn't have to discuss it at all. I read this book as research for my NaNoWriMo novel this year, and it did provide insight into the areas relevant for my book. The author could get a little overly focu ...more
Stephanie
It was an interesting look at the time Sylvia Plath spent in New York working for Mademoiselle magazine in 1953. I'm not sure how accurate some of her portrayal was. Plath was interested in being wealthy. She didn't just want the trappings of wealth: the perfect hair, the perfect makeup and the perfect clothes. She wanted the whole lifestyle and the freedom that came from not having to worry about money constantly.
Miranda (M.E.) Brumbaugh
Loved it. This is a great read to go with "The Bell Jar," as it explores the true story of the summer explored in "The Bell Jar." I really like how the author played with the format of the story. The chapter of the Glossary is particularly fun to read. I feel the author did a great job of trying to capture the spirit of the summer of 1953. Recommended for anyone read "The Bell Jar" or is interested in Sylvia Plath.
Gina
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a super delightful, fast, engaging read
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Elizabeth Winder is also the author of a poetry collection. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Review, the Antioch Review, American Letters, and other publications. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and earned an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University.
“She was restless. She drove a little too fast, swam a little too far offshore. She hitchhiked. She skied recklessly. While Sylvia's rabid perfectionism was very real, she was far from the good-girl persona she worked so hard to cultivate.” 7 likes
“...she could not stick by the golden mean...was always anxious to experiment in extremes...to find out what was enough by indulging herself in too much." (Gordon Lameyer)” 6 likes
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