Tag Archives: book reviews

What I’m Reading: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

At the suggestion of my writer’s group, I recently picked up The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Through Ester Greenwood Plath takes you inside the head of someone who is literally going crazy.

This book was suggested because in my current novel-in-progress, Home, I have a narrator, Ashley, who goes from being a normal, functioning member of society to a panic stricken agoraphobic who cannot leave the house. Not only does she not admit she has a problem, she doesn’t know how to articulate the problem to those around her.

In The Bell Jar, Plath takes you fully inside the mind of Ester, an english major in her junior year of college in the 70s. While the world seems to be open to her, Ester has an inherent distrust and uneasiness about her that she cannot articulate to those around her. She doesn’t even understand it herself. But by taking you inside her head, Plath lets you feel what Ester is feeling. You understand and even sympathize with her near-constant thoughts of suicide. You understand why she doesn’t trust her doctors, her mother, her friends. If you haven’t read this yet, it’s a quick read and will help you to see people with mental illness in a different way.

What I’m Reading: The Night Circus

I just closed The Night Circus. I loved it, and I think you should go out and buy it. Yes, you. I got my copy from the library, but I will be buying it. It’s a book to savor, with so much beautiful imagery you will want to read it again and again. And then read it to your kids.

When they are children, Celia and Marco are bound to a challenge that neither of them understands. Their teachers give no information, only that they will know when it has begun. It is a test of endurance and understanding of manipulating reality and disguising it as magic. The venue is Le Cirque des Rêves, an intricate dream world of tents and performers traveling and appearing if by magic, and only open at night.

I was able to catch a reading by Erin Morgenstern when she was in Nashville a few months ago, but wasn’t able to fully appreciate the discussion of the book as I hadn’t read it yet. Erin is an artist first, writing was something she tried on the side. She said that when she writes she sees the scenes like movies in her head and tries to capture that on paper. She did an excellent job.

This book took me a long time to read– a few weeks. Normally, I read books in matter of days. But her prose is beautiful, filled with just the right amount of flourishes that I had to slow down and let it fully sink in, but it never pulled me out of the story.