I know, doesn’t sound too cheery does it?
But actually the first section of this book is all about a young woman (Esther Greenwood) coming into herself in New York just as America is starting to recognise that women should be allowed to have lives outside the domestic kitchen! It’s an exciting time to be alive, and although she has a natural caution, she’s really not having the worst time in the world at the start of the book! In fact her slide into depression is so gradual, and her acceptance of it comes so much later than it happens, that she’s not far off recovery by the time you realise how messed up she is.
Although this was written more than 50 years ago it remains one of the most nuanced examinations of mental health issues. Her description of how she slowly stops sleeping, eating and washing is somehow ethereal. The examination of societies place in her depression is interesting and still relevant today.
I listened to this on audiobook, the reader was Maggie Gyllenhaal and her reading of it was absolutley laconic and sublime. I completely recommend that you listen to her reading of it rather than anything else.
Sylvia Plath’s suicide a month after it’s publication is still hard to relate to when you consider how much humour there is woven within these pages. It’s hard to say if this would have become a classic if she hadn’t, it was released at a time when women were begininng to examine their identities so it may have. Girl Interrupted did but although that was set at the same time it was released in the 90’s. It’s sad to think of all the works she might have gone on to complete but at least this gem exists.