The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

Fiction & Poetry, Modern & Contemporary Fiction
Paperback Published on: 09/04/2001
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Bookseller Reviews

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The Bell Jar
Unsettling and insightful - trigger warnings apply.
“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am”. I have never read The Bell Jar, but love Sylvia Plath’s poetry. I fe... READ MORE
Beth at Chesterfield


I was supposed to be having the time of my life.

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer.

But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women's aspirations seriously.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath's only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel is partially based on Plath's own life and descent into mental illness, and has become a modern classic. The Bell Jar has been celebrated for its darkly funny and razor sharp portrait of 1950s society and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

A classic work of Anglo-American feminist literature The Bell Jar – which was published in the UK just a month before Sylvia Plath’s suicide - has long been the subject of intense scrutiny, interrogated as much for its connection with Plath’s own life as for its undoubted literary brilliance. Plath herself invited the comparison, describing the book to her mother saying, ‘what I’ve done is to throw together events from my own life, fictionalising to add colour – it’s a potboiler really… I’ve tried to picture my world and the people in it as seen through the distorting lens of a bell jar.’ As the Guardian comments, ‘it’s a raw, unsettling book with flashes of brilliance, a roman à clef that’s also a long, tormented footnote to Plath’s tormented poetry’.

  • Publisher: Faber & Faber
  • ISBN: 9780571081783
  • Number of pages: 240
  • Weight: 202g
  • Dimensions: 198 x 129 x 14 mm

Customer Reviews

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The Bell Jar
An excellent read that I cannot recommend highly enough.
Given the somewhat legendary status of this book, I have been putting off reading it for awhile but having read it I really wish I had read it sooner. It ... READ MORE
The Bell Jar
The Bell Jar
Sylvia Plath is a name that I've always known. I know she was a poet and I know she suffered from depression and committed suicide. I've always wanted to r... READ MORE
The Bell Jar
Honest and heartbreaking
I had decided I’d better just get on with it and read some of the books I’d avoided in my youth. This was one of them. I didn’t want to read any book those... READ MORE
The Bell Jar
The Unrivalled Masterpiece
A story born of mental exhaustion. Deeply involving and poetic from one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.
The Bell Jar
Casual Racism, Ablism and Fatphobia but an excellent deep dive into depression
I thought this would be amazing because it is one of the most highly rated books I have on my shelf (by highly rated I mean the highest average rating on s... READ MORE
Analogue Holly
The Bell Jar
An enjoyable read
I read this book through my book club, and it isn’t my usual type of book. However, I enjoyed it. I didn’t know anything about Sylvia Plath prior to readi... READ MORE
Joan Moir
The Bell Jar
beautifully poetic and depressing
For me, it was Plath's beautiful description and imagery that made this book so incredible. The actual storyline itself is incredibly bleak and depressing,... READ MORE
The Bell Jar
A great read
Despite how dark and uncomfortable some parts of the story were, I was fully invested in the struggle and mental journey Esther, and by extension Plath, we... READ MORE
The Bell Jar
Quite dated.
Not as groundbreaking for me as it was made out to be, and notable racist language/stereotypes. Good quality writing but not a compelling story.
The Bell Jar
I really wouldn’t recommend it
TW: The first thing to note about this book before reading it, is graphic trigger warnings. There is lengthy discussion of suicide and raw depictions of de... READ MORE
Selina Pitt
The Bell Jar
Dark yet beautiful
An extremely complex novel that I feel is semi-autobiographical of Plath’s own life, and provides a unique narrative perspective. Only downside is that I w... READ MORE
Michaela Kemp
The Bell Jar
Ratings don't do justice to this book. Plath cuts you to the quick, as though you were copper in need of stripping. Her matter-of-fact tone really brings f... READ MORE
The Bell Jar
It was never a usual occurrence for me to finish a book in one or two days but this was too amazing to put down! The whole time I really felt like I was in... READ MORE
Dodie Foster
The Bell Jar
This book is engrossing. Sylvia Plath has created a bold masterpiece!
Lola Avis