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The Bell Jar
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Previous BRs - Authors; M - P > Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar - Informal Buddy Read; Starts November 23

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message 1: by Moderators of NBRC, Challenger-in-Chief (last edited Oct 23, 2014 01:39PM) (new)

Moderators of NBRC | 31140 comments Mod
This topic is open for discussion about The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Book synopsis:
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.

message 2: by Moderators of NBRC, Challenger-in-Chief (new)

Moderators of NBRC | 31140 comments Mod

message 3: by Moderators of NBRC, Challenger-in-Chief (new)

Moderators of NBRC | 31140 comments Mod

Michelle (shelld79) | 288 comments I might try and join in on this one too!

Christine I'm in!

message 7: by Joi (new)

Joi | 663 comments I think I'm in.!

RachelvlehcaR (charminggirl) | 4364 comments I would like to join. :)

Rosina | 1638 comments I will try this too.....always wanted to read this....

Lisa - (Aussie Girl) | 5078 comments I found this on my daughter's shelf. She is a big fan and just visited Sylvia Plath's grave in Hebden Bridge in the UK while she's been living there. I've never read it, so I'm in for the buddy read too.

message 11: by Jen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jen Sabo | 492 comments I'm joining also!

Princess Godoy (feelinggenius) | 233 comments I like to join too :)

message 13: by Sarah (last edited Oct 31, 2014 07:44PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sarah | 3273 comments I borrowed this from somebody at work for the BR. My co-worker thought it was weird.

Shinjini (shinjini14) | 292 comments I'm in. :)

message 15: by Sydney (new) - added it

Sydney | 92 comments I'm in.

message 16: by Lára (new) - added it

Lára I don't really like informal buddy reads, but I'm interested in this book, so I might join.

ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) (ilovebakedgoods) | 0 comments Sarah wrote: "I borrowed this from somebody at work for the BR. My co-worker thought it was weird."

Your co-worker thought the book was weird or the buddy read was weird?

message 18: by Kaitlin (new) - added it

Kaitlin (kait-k) | 451 comments I'm in for this one.

Lisa - (Aussie Girl) | 5078 comments I'm going to be starting this tomorrow.

Lisa - (Aussie Girl) | 5078 comments I've started and read the first three chapters. I had to do a bit of research about Sylvia Plath when I started - what a sad story. The book is set in the 60's in NYC so it will be interesting to get the perspective of a young woman dealing with all the changes of that decade.

ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) (ilovebakedgoods) | 0 comments I'm supposed to start this today so I will try to get it going when I get into bed tonight.

message 22: by Lisa - (Aussie Girl) (last edited Nov 23, 2014 03:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa - (Aussie Girl) | 5078 comments Good Teresa. It will great to have someone reading along with me.

Christine I'm hoping to start this book tomorrow. It will be a reread for me, but I first read it almost 20 years ago so I'm sure it will seem almost brand new! :-)

Lisa - (Aussie Girl) | 5078 comments Good one Christine. I wonder how much you'll remember.

Sarah | 3273 comments Lára wrote: "I don't really like informal buddy reads, but I'm interested in this book, so I might join."

She thought the book was weird.

Sarah | 3273 comments Oh dear. I may start this a little late.

Andrea (deja05) | 732 comments I'm gonna join you for this one too. I'll start the book tonight.

RachelvlehcaR (charminggirl) | 4364 comments I'm going to start the book later tonight. :) Can't wait.

Michelle (shelld79) | 288 comments I've managed to get through the first three chapters and don't really know how i feel about the story yet.
I do hope it gets a bit more engaging soon considering how popular it seems to be.
Has anyone else started it yet?

Lisa - (Aussie Girl) | 5078 comments Hi Michelle, I'm three quarters done. I know its a classic but boy do I find it tragic considering what happened to the author not long after she wrote it. Its nearly like a cry for help.

Princess Godoy (feelinggenius) | 233 comments I agree with Michelle, this is kinda slow paced for me. I still want to continue this thou because according to some interview this is like the own experiences of the author.

Shinjini (shinjini14) | 292 comments Starting this tonight. I read up on Sylvia Plath's life and I'd like to know more about the events leading up to her depression. I hope I'm ready for this.

Rosina | 1638 comments I started and read the first three chapters I'm enjoying it so far

Andrea (deja05) | 732 comments I've read up to chapter 6. My edition has a nice foreword that talked about Sylvia Plath's life. I'm finding (view spoiler)

message 35: by ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) (last edited Nov 24, 2014 07:59AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) (ilovebakedgoods) | 0 comments I'm on page 56, which I believe is the start of chapter 5 or 6. I had only intended to read two chapters but I was really sucked in. I've got to put this down so I can read a chapter in a few other books I'm doing buddy reads for. I don't want to. I'm really drawn into this story already. On the one hand, I am intrigued and want to read more but on the other, I am concerned about how sad or depressing it is going to become. Not because I can't handle sad or depressing books but because I am going to feel for this girl and wish I could make everything okay for her. I don't think mental illness was properly handled back in the 60s, when this story takes place so I fear that she's going to end up going through some horrible treatments. Plus, taking gender issues into account. She might be brushed off as having "girl troubles" or something...dramatic, etc.

Andrea, my book has a forward like that, too. Wonder if we have the same copy. I agree about (view spoiler)

I had a lot of reservations about reading this book for a long time because it seemed to be the go-to book for melodramatic adolescent females for a long time, some seeming to romanticize depression and suicide (no idea if the character of Esther commits suicide, but if you know the story of Sylvia Plath...). Then, I read a few reviews here on GR by people I respect and many of them mentioned having the same reservations but that once they read the book they discovered that it was a really well-written account of one woman's spiral into depression/schizophrenia.

Lisa - (Aussie Girl) | 5078 comments I finished the book this morning. I have really mixed feelings about it. I can't say I "liked" it, the subject matter was so tragic especially when you juxtapose it with Sylvia Plath's actual life.

But I can appreciate the writing and how brave it was to publish a book about these subjects in the 60's.

Princess Godoy (feelinggenius) | 233 comments @andrea and @Teresa Is this your edition The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath ? Cause I have that one and there's a very awesome foreword about the author and there are included life about the author and her other works.

Andrea (deja05) | 732 comments Princess wrote: "@andrea and @Teresa Is this your edition The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath? Cause I have that one and there's a very awesome foreword about the author and there are included life about the author an..."

I have an e-book but that's not the cover for it. The foreword is by her editor I think.

ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) (ilovebakedgoods) | 0 comments That's my copy, Princess.

Rosina | 1638 comments I am starting chapter 7. I too am sucked into this story. I find it quite interesting to read about how different life was 50 years ago. In some ways seems a much simpler time.

Shinjini (shinjini14) | 292 comments I am about to start 5. I really like the style narration so far. Very engaging and simple. It almost feels like a contemporary.

Christine Princess wrote: "@andrea and @Teresa Is this your edition The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath? Cause I have that one and there's a very awesome foreword about the author and there are included life about the author an..."

That's the edition I'm reading, and I enjoyed the forward too. It makes me want to read some of her poetry as well.

I'm currently reading Chapter 3. I really like the narration too. It feels very personal and it is definitely drawing me in.

RachelvlehcaR (charminggirl) | 4364 comments I picked up my copy for the library and started reading last night. I'm currently reading this The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath The Bell Jar and enjoyed the forward by Frances McCullough.

Shinjini (shinjini14) | 292 comments I have a different cover version ( The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath ) but it has the foreword by Frances McCullough as well. It got me very interested to know why Plath's mother was so against the publishing of the book. I haven't found any direct incriminating evidence with regard to her but I'm waiting to know more.

RachelvlehcaR (charminggirl) | 4364 comments Chapter 1,
I'm enjoying how easy it is to read. (view spoiler)

message 46: by ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) (last edited Nov 25, 2014 02:47PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) (ilovebakedgoods) | 0 comments This book is such a quick read that I'm finding it hard to come here and discuss it! There's so much I like about it but I have a hard time putting it all into words.

I agree, Shinjini, it is very engaging and simple. Simple in a good way. I feel like I am really getting to know this girl.

It is interesting to read what feels like a young adult novel from the mind of someone who was a young adult in the 50s, as opposed to say a recently written YA that might take place in the 50s.

This is a girl who was raised, from the sound of it, in a small town and now she's trying to figure out how to survive in a city like New York. She's not the most sophisticated creature but she is trying to adapt by observing others. I'm not really sure I like Doreen being her influence but we'll see how that works out for her.

RachelvlehcaR (charminggirl) | 4364 comments Here are my thoughts up to page 50, I stopped at Chapter 5.

Chapter 1

(view spoiler)

Chapter 2

(view spoiler)

Chapter 3

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Chapter 4

(view spoiler)

ilovebakedgoods (Teresa) (ilovebakedgoods) | 0 comments Rachel, love the comments and your insights!

I agree about the hot bath thing. So relaxing and invigorating and cleansing! Also, (view spoiler)

There is some speculation about the name Esther Greenwood having meaning to the author but I forget now what it is. I read about it not long ago but haven't retained the info. I'm sure I can find it again if I feel like looking it up.

Oh, I loved that in Chapter 3 (view spoiler)

Chapter 4:(view spoiler)

Shinjini (shinjini14) | 292 comments I quite like this chapterwise comments so I'm going to do that as well. Thank you, Rachel. :D

I really liked the foreword. Frances McCullough beautifully described the story behind the publishing of the book and how the publishing house overcame the many hurdles that came their way. The fact that many people didn't find this book all that readable at the time was also very interesting as it describes the great change in reading patterns and tastes between then and now. I especially found that particular fact rather charming when he mentioned how he had asked a sales manager to read the book overnight and only because he absolutely loved it that the book came to be published. To imagine that this classic wouldn't have been published if he hadn't liked this book and thought it would have great sales.. wow!

Chapter 1:
(view spoiler)

Chapter 2:
(view spoiler)

Chapter 3:
(view spoiler)

Chapter 4:
(view spoiler)

Chapter 5:
(view spoiler)

Chapter 6:
(view spoiler)

Teresa, I read this part where she writes that names with the same number of letters makes for a good pseudonym. It made me think of Esther and Sylvia both having 6 letters but I can't find that particular quote now.

I agree with what you say. It's interesting to read a young adult's perspective from the past. Also, I'm finding Esther very endearing. She has insecurities of her own and she's making her way through the big bad city that is New York and it's lovely to see her try and fight it out with the world. I'm liking this book so far. :)

Christine I just finished the book. I approached this read with a tiny bit of trepidation - I first read this book 20 years ago as a teenager, and I loved it then. I was worried that I would not like it as much from my current perspective in life, but I was wrong. I think I appreciate it much more this second reading.

(view spoiler)

The edition I read also included a "biographical note" written by Lois Ames at the end that was also very illuminating on how much of this novel really is representative of Plath's own life. Even though the novel ends on a more upbeat note, it is impossible to read it that way without filling in the blanks in one's mind of how Plath's life ended.

I am very glad I read this novel again, but it is very sobering. I definitely intend to read some of Plath's poetry soon.

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