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The Bell Jar cover art

The Bell Jar

By: Sylvia Plath
Narrated by: Maggie Gyllenhaal
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Publisher's Summary

Read by the critically acclaimed actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. 

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship at 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. 

Sylvia Plath's groundbreaking semiautobiographical novel offers an intimate, honest and often wrenching glimpse into mental illness. The Bell Jar broke the boundaries between fiction and reality and helped cement Sylvia Plath's place as an enduring feminist icon. Celebrated for its darkly humorous, razor-sharp portrait of 1950s society, it continues to resonate with readers today as a testament to the universal human struggle to claim one's rightful place in the world. 

©2015 Sylvia Plath (P)2015 Faber & Faber

What listeners say about The Bell Jar

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Not the literary chore I thought it would be

I'd managed to passively ignore this book for years, thinking it would be too fancy and literary for me. Like the books we were forced to dissect in high school.

This book was an absolute joy to listen to, Sylvia Plath was such an intelligent and drily funny writer. Extremely clever. I enjoyed the insight into her own descent into mental illness, I think it will make me a better person to be aware of the signs and the feelings.

Maggie Gyllenhaal's narration was next-level great and really helped bring the story to light. Highly recommended.

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4 people found this helpful

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Sylvia Plath Rocked

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, I thought the writing and the reading of the book superb.

What did you like best about this story?

Sylvia Plath's use of language. Her ability to get inside her character and deliver that character to the reader was brilliant.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

All of them. I found the story flowed right throughout.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

All people are created equal. Only society deems otherwise.

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3 people found this helpful

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Not for me!

The book was well written and narrated, however, the subject matter whilst insightful is depressing. I like to read to escape the woes and pressures of the real world. This is definitely not the book for me.

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2 people found this helpful

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Best Narrator

Maggie is Esther Greenwood. I loved her narration - A cautionary tale for all of us who sometimes are a little crazy. RIP Sylvia.

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2 people found this helpful

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Audio is really quiet

I love this story but I do need to turn my earphones onto the highest setting and I find it hard to hear.

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1 person found this helpful

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Beautiful

Love the voices, love the setting. Just wished it was longer. Interesting poetic way of describing things for a novel

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Read already? Still worth a listen!

Firstly this is narrated so well, I love the voice Maggie brings to this book. It has a very sultry 1960's feel (yes, I know that's not an actual thing, it's just how it feels).

I read this as a teenager and I'm so glad I have revisited it. It resonates in a completely different way in adulthood. I imagine this was incredibly groundbreaking for its time.

Keep listening at the end for a brief synopsis of Sylvia's life and experiences and, ultimately, her death. The last part of the novel which reflects on how she will know the bell jar won't descend again? Sandlot prophetic, but really powerful. Loved this.

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Great Narrator and story

I loved this novel, I was so sad when it ended. I think the narrator does an excellent job at conveying the tone of the protagonist. I will say it is definitely of it’s time with some racist and fatphobic commentary, something to be aware of before reading!

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Intriguing story, beautifully delivered

I was captivated by both the story and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance. Couldn’t stop listening to this one. The tale is devastatingly depressing but rings so true.

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A classic- so ground breaking

Sylvia Plath is so descriptive - so honest about her mental health and her brilliant observations , brutal and beautiful.

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