The Bell Jar

Read by Maggie Gyllenhaal

BY: Liz MacDonald

Sylvia Plath’s haunting coming-of-age story in The Bell Jar is a stand-alone American classic. Most famous as a portrait of a fragile psyche slowly unraveling, it’s maybe more importantly a portrayal of a young woman coming to terms with a world that doesn’t quite meet her expectations. Drawn from the events of her own life, Plath’s narrative resonates with today’s reader with every bit of intensity as when it was first published in 1963.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is the perfect pick to voice Plath’s talented but conflicted heroine. Hearing Gyllenhaal narrate is like having your cool best friend read you Plath’s words. Her full, unabridged recording of The Bell Jar is available now from Harper Audio.

Choice words from The Bell Jar:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”