This has been sitting on my shelf for very nearly a year because I am a Bad Person. A bad person with a reading list longer than I am tall, to be fair, but still, I take all the blame here. I should have read it much sooner. It was a gift from a brilliant friend who obviously knows me very well.
It’s a seriously powerful book. I’m sure that comes as a surprise to no one but really, it hit me hard. While I was reading the first half people kept asking me “isn’t it kind of depressing” and I was saying, “no?” Because the first half isn’t depressing, not really. The depression creeps up on the protagonist quite slowly until it envelops every aspect of her life and then, only in retrospect, does the first half suddenly seem so bleak.
It’s semi-autobiographical and Plath originally published it under a pseudonym. Not long afterwards she committed suicide. It’s clear when reading that her protagonists decent into depression likely mirrored her own. Now normally I love sad books but when it’s almost a true story about the author things are a bit different. I feel like I need to take some time to recover from it.
That all makes it sound awful. It’s not. It’s a wonderful, incredible book and it’s even funny at times. To think someone wrote it whilst struggling with severe depression is amazing. I actually think everyone should read it. Mental illness still carries such a stigma today and this is a fantastic insight into what it’s like to experience depression. It can’t hurt to gain a little more understanding of it.