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  • The Bell Jar

  • Written by: Sylvia Plath
  • Narrated by: Maggie Gyllenhaal
  • Length: 7 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (150 ratings)

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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 Ltd

What listeners say about The Bell Jar

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Wonderfully Read!


This book is timeless. Yes it was written of and in another time but what it says is just as true today. Ms. Plath's semi biographical fiction speaks of depression. Which she suffered most of her adult life.

The Bell Jar is still relevant as any one of us could be Esther. Yet as depressing as this book sounds, it isn't. Esther is young and witty and you really begin to care and become more hopeful and some of us even identify with her.

A powerful and well written book that should be on your to listen list.

2 people found this helpful

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The Bell Jar

This is one of my favourite books of all time and the narrator does an excellent job of capturing the feeling and evokes a wonderful mental picture.

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helped me put my privilege into perspective.

everyone struggles. everyone gets abused in some way or another. trying to look at the jar half full instead of half empty is impossible.

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loved it

loved it so much, more then I thought then I ever would. amazing voice reader aswell

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a poet at heart

I think listening to this story was the ultimate experience because Plath's use of words sounds so mezmerizing to the ear, that at times I was tempted to lose track of the action. Her description brought me right to the 50's and 60's of the last century, warts and all. For Mental Health awareness, women's issues, or simply euphony, an excellent choice.

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racist author

The writing maybe good but the writer is a racist and I don't understand why this book is still in the Amazon Audible store!!
I wish it were to be taken down.

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  • MGB
  • 2015-08-21

Esther whispering into your ear

I've always struggled to finish reading the Bell Jar, but this was disturbingly fascinating.
You are treated to Sylvia Plath's words, delivered flawlessly by Maggie Gyllenhaal, perfevt incarnation of Esther.

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  • emilie boivin
  • 2019-03-26

Great book

I purchased the book by curiosity. I never had the chance to any of Plath's work before, and I always thought of Maggie Gyllenhaal as a great actress, so I went ahead and downloaded The Bell Jar. There a lightness about the heroine's descent into madness. The narrative is almost a casual chatter describing on despair and disillusionment. It allowed me to take it all in, let it sit, then fully appreciate the richness of Plath's work.

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  • Nakota
  • 2015-12-05

Weird

I'd like to know why did they cut the first paragraph about the Rosenbergs? weird

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2021-04-13

Writing is beautiful. Gyllenhaal was immaculate.

Maggie Gyllenhaal was absolutely immaculate. She embodies Esther Greenwood perfectly and switches voices and tones depending on character well.

Sylvia Plath has written so beautifully and well. The depiction of a nervous breakdown felt slow and subtle to me, and I think that's very accurate. The little things Sylvia describes are all magical in their sometimes melancholic way. Some things were relatable. Esther as a character is a somewhat normal person and was sometimes relatable. I think that goes to show how mental illnesses can affect anyone. Plath's work was revolutionary for her time in regards to feminism and mental health. However, some mildly racist terminology is used, and there is maybe one scene that read as racist to me. There is also a lack of people of color except for one very minor antagonistic character so there's that, but I guess this is somewhat characteristic of her time. All in all, it is tragic that Sylvia never got to write her second book. It would've been superb. This is close to the first of Sylvia's work I've read, and I'll definitely be reading more.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-01-25

Brilliant performance

Loved it. The book is great and the performance of Meggie Gylenhaal makes is wonderful.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-01-11

awesome

I love every bit of it. sylvia is such an amazing writer and story teller. plus the narrator (maggie) was excellently eloquent.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-09-26

Loved it!

I absolutely loved this audiobook! The feelings of the main character are relatable to a lot of people, I think. Plath’s writing is beautiful and Gyllenhaal voicing the main character is a perfect match. After completing the novel I missed Gyllenhaal’s narration so much that I also purchased her take on the 35h Anna Karenina (which I just finished and loved). I warmly recommend this novel!

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  • Anca
  • 2018-08-06

Brilliant

The book is an amazing study of the life of a depressed young girl who cannot cope with the important decisions in her life.
Maggie Gyllenhaal does a superb job, absolutely perfect.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-03-23

Low intensity, beautiful, well read

Low intensity, beautiful and well read. Enjoyed the performance and got things to think about.

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  • Sam Black
  • 2017-12-07

Relatable and Melancholy

I think I got more out of this book with Maggie’s performance behind it. Sometimes I felt rubbed the wrong way and I don’t know if it was the words or the way Maggie said them. Maybe I was supposed to react that way. The first hour or so into it I couldn’t understand why it was a classic - but I’m glad I listened the whole way through. Even in today’s setting you can relate to the topics of mental health, societal pressures and feminism. Good purchase! Might listen again if I’m in a melancholy mood :)

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  • Isabelle
  • 2018-10-16

Beautiful

A challenging read, captivating. Beautiful language. Felt her pain and her struggle. An interesting look at a different time period as well.

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  • Katja Lorencic
  • 2018-01-17

in love

Such a beautiful voice and acting joined with a captivating story. I can only recommend