This review includes spoilers, you've been forewarned.

This is a hard book to read, partly for the confused start, but also the very real ending. A deep insight into clinical depression.

This is a hard book to read, partly for the confused start, but also the very real ending. A deep insight into clinical depression.

I have to admit that in reading this book I really struggled to enjoy it - and not because it of the nature of the book, but because it felt like I was bouncing around inside of Sylvia Plath's head in a random jumbled up, non linear fashion.

In fact, I'd say the first third of the book is almost entirely that. The mini stories that occur don't really finish, and as we were journeying through one recounted story, I'd find we'd quickly make a sharp turn and begin a new journey.

The middle third starts to become a bit more pieced together but the book was struggling to win me over. Esther Greenwood (which I'd read earlier The Bell Jar was semi-autobiographical) wanted to kill herself. The way that this third goes on read almost childish and, for my shame, I was beginning to hope the character "just get on with it".

It was also that the first section of the book painted an extremely successful character and the character in the second part was very much the opposite end of the spectrum and the different was jarring and hard to consolidate (as a reader).

Suffice to say, she does indeed attempt suicide. For the final third of the book she is institutionalised and undergoes therapy but also electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). The ECT isn't glorified nor is it vilified which was interesting and challenging (particularly with the story being semi-autobiographical).

The last third takes its time and walks gently through the journey that she takes during her institutionalised. None of this part of the book is glamourised and she doesn't make some magical recovery.

It's slow, gentle and unsure. Even as Esther finally reaches her board review to see if she can leave the institution, she herself is unconvinced that anything has changed, but something is certainly at rest in her.

The last part of the book definitely calls for reflection and helped to give me an insight into those who struggle with existing. There's rarely some grand purpose that drives them to death by suicide, and indeed in Esther's case there's nothing that particularly explain why she wanted to end her life.

There's a moment with her medical supervisor where Esther says that she hates her mother. This is after their last encounter - and her mother isn't bad in the slightest, it's that her mother wants to know what she had done wrong to have not been able to help protect her daughter from these feelings. The supervisor (slash therapist) says, "I believe you do". She doesn't try to sympathies or give Esther another point of view. This line surprised me, in a believable way.

And as the book ends, Esther is reunited with her mother, and her mother, naively says she just wants to forget about it all and move forward from this, healthier time. To which Esther writes that her mother may want to forget and that perhaps Esther might forget those feelings:

Maybe forgetfulness, like a kind snow, should numb and cover them. But they were part of me. They were my landscape.

Having dealings with depression myself, and shock grief of the worst kind, it really doesn't go away, and it isn't forgotten. It's as Plath writes: it becomes part of your landscape.

This is a hard book to read, partly for the confused start, but also the very real ending. Made harder by knowing that Sylvia Plath died by suicide the same year of this book's release.

Plath described the book (to her mother) as:

a pot boiler really, but I think it will show how isolated a person feels when he is suffering a breakdown.

Indeed that's the experience of the last third of the book.