Bell Jar, The

Plath, Sylvia

  11 Reviews

The Bell Jar is Plath's only novel. The world in which the events of the novel takes place, is a world bounded by the Cold War on one side and the sexual war on the other. The book is not political or historical in any narrow sense, but in looking at the madness of the world and the world of madness, it forces us to consider the great question posed by all truly realistic fiction: what is reality and how can it be confronted?

Comments from Groups

Everyone enjoyed this extraordinarily written book about a subject which affects the lives of most of us in NZ. This book offers real insight into the depths of despair someone can reach when they are depressed. Paihia 001

This book was controversial - half the group disliked it. Discussion was good however and afterwards several members decided they would like to read it again! Warkworth 005

Great discussion. Mixed views about the topic but all agreed wonderful writer able to evoke strong visual images in a few words. Cooks Beach 001

Brilliant writer. Gave us a real insight into mental illness - but difficult work to read as it progressed. Otaki 001

Found it very easy to read and we had LOTS to talk about. New Plymouth 014

Brilliantly written and insightful book, pity the author didn't live to witness the changes for women in the decades that followed. Nelson 018

Realistic rendition of the 50s. Good to read. Descriptions and language exquisite. Tauranga 018



An in depth discussion in the safe environment of our group, including suicide, depression, being in a bell jar...and despite all this, many of us appreciated and enjoyed her writing.
The book prompted very interesting discussion. Everyone seemed to relate to it in some way. Well-written, a good story, great characterisation.
WELL 005
Provoked some interesting discussions. Some members having no prior knowledge re Sylvia Plath, while others having quite in depth knowledge. All appreciated the language and thoughtful use of words. For some it has sparked an interest in tracking down her poems. Comparisons were discussed re lives of women in the 50s and 60s, and with Janet Frame's 'Owls Do Cry'.
WELL 135
We all liked the book, even if it got a bit dark!
WELL 018
We enjoyed this more than most had thought - not as 'grim' as anticipated and actually quite candid. Inspired many of us to a) watch the film, and b) learn more about Sylvia, and in particular about Ted Hughes.
CHCH 202
'The Bell Jar' was appreciated a bit more by women than by men. The women felt it was a true representation of the role of women at that time. Lively discussion of suicide, if that's not a contradiction in terms. Members also appreciated the lively style of writing.
CHCH 355
Members found this book depressing - seemed disjointed. Didn't engage with the characters but we felt this probably reflected the author's perspective. Issues such as suicide, depression, shock treatment and mental illness (attitudes towards this) were discussed as a result of this book.
AUCK 226
We were glad we had read it - great discussion afterwards. Good notes. Best to read them first.
NGON 002
The book was generally well received by members. Everybody found it interesting, and it produced interesting discussion regarding mental health cures. Led to a recommendation by a member to watch the movie 'Sylvia' - about the author.
Challenging, disturbing - overall an appreciated read.
CHCH 337
The group loved her style of writing, and the lightness and humour she brought to a very sombre and real issue - "mental health". We were extremely moved to think that she died only a couple of years after this book had been completed. Poor Sylvia.