Last night I finished Plath’s only novel. It was my first dalliance into her world aside from the poetry Kate sometimes frequents upon my ears. It was an incredible book, dark and terrifying in places but with an excellent sense of humour.
Plath’s barely fictional Esther Greenwood is a surprisingly forward-thinking and empowering character considering the time she existed. The story follows her travelling from her home in Boston to take up a magazine apprenticeship one Summer. Completely separate from the world she is expected to enjoy Esther feels lost and disorientated at the prospect of just being a wife and a mother. Upon her return home she intends taking up a writing course but is instantly dismissed by letter. She attempts to write a novel herself but her fear of her lack of life experience prevents her from doing so.
Esther’s depression begins to rise until she is institutionalised and then titters on the edge of what is real and what she wants.
It’s a brave novel, and one I am very glad to have read.
It’s hard to read completely objectively given Plath herself committed suicide a month after the book was published. There are so many warning signs she is truly suffering and yet it wasn’t a time when such states of depression could be readily identified and dealt with.
All the same it’s an insight into how sometimes no offer can be good enough.