The Bell Jar

Today I hopped a flight to Chicago, Illinois.  I’m here for two reasons: to accompany husband on a business trip for the first part of the week, and then to run my SECOND 1/2 marathon on Sunday.  Can you believe I’m crazy enough to go back for seconds? Of course I love to use any opportunity I can to check list items off.  I’m tempted to use Chicago as my “new major city” although I was here for a jazz band competition in highschool….I don’t remember seeing the city….just the house in the suburbs where we stayed….and the inside of the school where the competition was held.  But I won’t check it off since I have been here before, I just don’t remember it.  I scanned my list of things left to do and couldn’t really think of anything that I could check off while I was here.  Except….

I still have 3 books to go on my list.  Three X’s left to link up.  So I brought a book I was halfway finished with on the plane with me today and finished.  Bam.  Only 2 more books to go now.  Thank you, Chicago trip.

I first fell in love with Sylvia Plath in Mr. Locke’s English class in 12th grade.  I loved her honest writing style.  How she saw things and brought them to life in her words.  I was fascinated with her poetry and her curious, sad life.  I couldn’t understand how her words which seemed so passionate and alive, could come from a person who was chronically depressed and had many times attempted suicide. The Bell Jar is one of those books that I’ve been intending to read since I became aware of its existence.  But then when I actually had time to sit down and read, it just never seemed to make it to the top of the stack.  Then….on a trip to McKay’s Used Books in Nashville one day, I saw a previously-loved copy with a 75 cent price sticker on it and couldn’t pass it up.   And then it sat on my bookshelf…until the blog came along.  And I knew it had to have a place on my “read 8 books” list.

On the whole, it’s a super depressing book, but Plath’s writing style is so refreshing that she makes even a mental ward and suicide attempts seem cheery…or at least logical.  It’s a coming-of-age story in many regards even though the main character is in her young twenties; she’s finding her way in the world dealing with an internship, occupational aspirations, men and family relationships.  When an intentional overdose of pills lands her in a string of mental institutions, the reader gets a peek into the mind of a young woman who realizes her mental shortcomings, but desperately fights to be free and “normal” once again from the clouded lens of depression.

The Bell Jar is semi-autobiographical although the novel’s ending is much more redemptive and hopeful than Plath’s own life which ended in suicide on February 11, 1963 in her flat in London.  I’d recommend it highly, but caution readers that the subject matter is indeed intense.

So now 3. Read 8 books (one a month)  has 6 X’s beside it!  And don’t worry….I packed another book in my suitcase for the flight home.


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About bethanybordeaux

I fiddle around a bit.

2 responses to “The Bell Jar”

  1. Momma Daniel says :

    Surely you remember visiting the museum and that huge book/record store while in Chicago??? And the 50’s style diner with all the Elvis memorabilia?

    • bethanybordeaux says :

      I wish I could say I did…I remember the school where the competition was held and I remember the house we stayed in…but I truly thought that we hadn’t gone into the city until you said that we had. sigh. the selective memory of teenagers.

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