Friday, July 31, 2015

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath...

Title- The Bell Jar.
Author- Sylvia Plath.
Publish date- 1981, 2006.
Publisher- Harper Perennial Modern Classics.


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
It's not a synopsis, I know, but I THOUGHT THIS WAS IT.



What I thought:
You know how there are some books you hear about and you're sure they'll be for you, maybe not incredibly so, but they'll hit at something within you and that'll be it. The two of you feel almost destined to connect- although I shouldn't really speak for the book.
I'm thinking I should be wary of the books I think of in this way, after my experience with E. E. Cummings (I'll never recover) and The Bell Jar. And in the same month, too!

I had owned a (really gorgeous) copy of The Bell Jar for around two years and to actively get through my physical tbr I've decided to take a photo of three books each month and instagram them, because you can't lie on the 'gram (lies), and it worked so well.
Only I loathed two out of the three books.

About twenty minutes after starting and feeling like the pace of the story was easy enough to get used to, I updated my goodreads and saw someone reference TBJ, in a way, as the female version of The Catcher in the Rye, which just happens to be my second most hated book ever.
So that got me a little concerned.
And while I wouldn't call it the female version, I would say the two and their respective characters are very similar. Esther Greenberg moseyed along in a disengaged- and disengaging- way, thinking about death and comitting suicide a lot and really just being there-  but not. Which I suppose is the whole point. But it only frustrated me, left me feeling like I was waiting and waiting for something more, only for that more to never come.

It is quite poignent, how Esther grows depressed, because it showed very clearly that there isn't always a reaosn, that it can just be life, even when life is giving you so much. I recognised a lot of elements of genuity in the descriptions and progress of Esther's depression and that struck me, but what also struck me was how little, a lot of the time, Esther did for herself. Her safety or health or happiness or just because it was the right thing to do.
She left her friend, drunk and in an apartment with a man she'd just met, without saying a word, and when she came to her door, sick and crying, she let her fall asleep in the corridor in a pool of her own vomit.
She came close to being raped and I know the issue is not and never will be the fact you could have done something, it's not as if the victim is to blame, but I didn't know how she almost let it be, when she knew what was about to happen. Why she almost didn't struggle.

Rating: Oh nooo...
The Bell Jar and I may have been destined for each other, but if we were it wasn't so we could have a happy experience. Or future.

20 comments:

  1. I haven't read this yet. It might be something I should consider reading soon.

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    1. It's certainly interesting to have read, Joy, even if I disliked it a lot. I do feel kinda glad I know what it's about.

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  2. A female version of Catcher in the Rye sounds very appropriate - I didn't care for either of those books unfortunately. The main characters were very frustrating for me. I don't remember as many details about this book, but I think I agree with pretty much everything you said about it! At least you can say you have read it though! :)

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    1. Well we're on the same page. I seem to rather be one in amidst many fans. We must unite our powers and stand tall, Charlene! Definitely frustrating characters. I am glad to have read it, although not so much for being able to say I have read it- I was so keen and I am happy to know what I felt about it, only I wish it had been better. xx

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  3. I've been hesitant to read The Bell Jar because some of the themes just don't sit right with me. Esther, for example feels like a character that I would loathe, and I actually do so a little just from reading your review Romi. UGH, how can someone do that to their friend?! Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy it, but thank you for the honest review! xx

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    1. That's interesting. I knew it was about depression, but I didn't know about the other elements I would come across. And there is a lot, so I'm not surprised if it's a bit daunting or heavy to want to go into. Not a read that will, I imagine, leave you feeling happy.
      Oh I know! I was really horrified that she did that and there was no repercussion or anything. She just didn't seem to care. xx

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  4. I haven't read A Catcher in the Rye or The Bell Jar but from this review it sounds like I am not missing out on two much. Esther would definitely get on my nerves, especially if she is that bad of a friend. This one sounds pretty frustrating in general, actually.

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    1. They were definitely books I could have done without, and I raged for most of my reading- except I am kind of glad I've read this, at least I know. The Catcher... I so could have done without. THE ANGER.
      I couldn't believe it! I was sure something would happen but nothing does and the friend doesn't even mention it. They stay "friends". Urgh.

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  5. I actually really enjoyed the Bell Jar, it felt incredibly realistic and I like your point about not needing a reason to be depressed. Wonderful review Romi!

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    1. Aw, that's great to hear, Jeann! It's so interesting how different people enjoy things and don't enjoy them. I love that about reviewing. And I'm glad it was a positive experience for you. I certainly agree that it felt realistic, just wasn't portrayed in a way that worked for me.
      Thanks so much for sharing, even if we feel differently about this, Jeann! xx

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  6. I'm sorry you didn't like it. I haven't read it yet but I think I'll try it out one day to have my own opinion. Wonderful review Romi!

    -Jordan

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    1. Hey, reading is all about experiencing things and finding out how you feel about them as an individual- I'd love to hear what you DO think about this, Jordan. I wonder what the experience will be like for you! I await further news with eager anticipation!

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  7. I actually haven't read this one, despite owning a copy. The premise sounds really confronting, but from what I gather from reviews and now yours too, she sounds like she never really tried to engage or heal. She seemed content to be depressed and fluctuated between that and wanting to feel nothing at all. It's an odd one that's for sure. I'll eventually give it a read, but I can already tell that if it wasn't your thing, it certainly won't be mine either because your reviews are always on point. Fabulous review nonetheless Romi <3

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    1. I can't believe it took me so long to get to, Kelly! I owned a copy for over a year and often stared at it longingly, but... never got to it until I set myself a goal of doing just that.
      It is rather confronting, especially in certain parts. It all feels softened, or most of it, though- Esther is a bit out of things a lot of the time and her perspective can be shockingly clear but also dulled. I would be so interested on hearing your thoughts, when you do get to it- see what you made of it all. I thought it was really quite accurate, as Jeann says, at times, but... it just wasn't good for me.

      AAW. Thanks so much, Kelly! You're a sweet-pea.xx

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  8. This is a really thoughtful review. It's been years since I read The Bell Jar. It wasn't what I expected either. I remember there were some arresting moments but I'm not sure if I'd re-read it to be inside of Esther's state of mind. Though, I've always wanted to read Plath's poetry (especially Ariel). I have a soft spot for poetry.

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    1. Thank you, Glaiza! No, definitely not what I expected. I mean, I could still have enjoyed it, but... ah, maybe not. Maybe I couldn't. Esther was just not a heroine I wanted to spend time around, and having that state of mind, like you say, it's not something I'm wanting to seek out.
      I don't tend to do such a good job with poetry, unfortunately. I can really enjoy it, but often I just don't. I think it'll take quite a while, but at some point I think I'll pick up Ariel, too. xx

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  9. I'm not sure I want to read this book to be honest! I sometimes have trouble with the way some classics are written (too used to modern styles I guess haha). I have heard it's pretty confronting and realistic, so maybe some time in the far future when I'm bored and don't have too much else to read :P

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    1. I can a. totally understand that, and b. know what you mean! I have that with some classics, too, so it's always riveting when one just sucks me in. I, too, feel I may be too used to the style of writing modern days presents us with.
      It is definitely quite confronting, but I didn't really feel it at the time- it's kind of dulled, dreamlike, or that was the way for me. I do hope it works somewhat better for you, if you give it a go someday, Nara! xx

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  10. Oh nooooo (which I just realised was your rating XD). I'm so sad you didn't like this one, Romi! Have you read any of Plath's other work?

    I read this back in high school, because I adore Sylvia Plath (and I also felt some kind of spiritual connection with her, in my eyes), and I really loved it. I am now totally scared if I ever decide to re-read it, because I really think our thoughts on things change a lot from child/teenage years to later on.

    I remember not particularly liking Esther, but being drawn into reading her story nevertheless. And the ending *screaming* So open.

    I do like the fact that this is practically autobiographical, because I think it really gives insight into how Plath felt a lot of the time, especially as a young woman. I've also read a lot of her journals. I just think she's a super interesting person.

    Anyway, again: sorry you didn't like this one :( Hopefully you love your next book.

    P.s. Did you always have Bloglovin? I swear you didn't, because I come to your blog to check your posts because I never saw a Bloglovin button. But then I just saw it RIGHT NOW, and have thus followed (of course, because it's you! <3).

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    1. Oh how wonderful! That's terribly amusing. I love it. I haven't read any of her other work, no- or, rather, I read + reviewed a book of her art + letters relevant to said art, but that wasn't fiction. I may one day try her poetry, but for now feel a break would be best.

      Isn't it sad when that happens? I'm determined to reread the books I loved as a child if I want to, but when they're not as brilliant as I remembered them being it can get rather disheartening. I suppose the memory has to be retained if all possible, in those cases, although it can be rather difficult, for sure.

      Yes, although... it's so terribly sad. Amazing that she put it down and was able to convey those feelings, and there was a moment where Esther turns her story into a characters which felt so meaningful. Because you're reading how she felt and seeing how she transfers it to the page and that makes it more genuine than ever.

      I'm trying to work out whether I'm surprised you like this, Chiara, and... I just can't decide. Either I thought you'd have loved it or hated it, I think.

      Yup! I got the email you'd started following me just before this comment and the explaination was rather amusing- I thought I remembered you following me months ago! But yes, I've had it there for a good couple of years. Hiding, but there.
      AAW. You're a lovely cream puff. xx

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Please note, however, that nothing hurtful will be tolerated.

Have a beautiful day.x