Now I'm reading it. I'm almost done. It has a strangely addictive quality. It is difficult stop reading. I keep telling myself that I'm going to put it down and turn on the TV and I can't do it. (Don't most of us usually have the opposite problem)? It is a page turner, but I don't exactly understand why. There is very little suspense. Rather, there is a feeling of being dragged down without one's conscious consent. In fact, it might be an interesting little research project to see how many times Plath uses the word "drag" in one form or another. I also have this feeling that with every page I am being exposed to some sort of horrible, gory violence when there is, in fact, none (3/4 of the way in).
I knew that the author committed suicide not long after its publication, but I only just looked up her method (head in a gas oven -- I didn't think anyone ever actually did that -- it's so often a comic moment in sitcoms). Her character's growing obsession with methods of suicide should be a requirement for training in any sort of clinical counseling setting. All of that thinking it through! And absolutely no insight into the fact that there may be a reason why the body and mind resists suicide. Well, that's the crux of mental illness, isn't it? At least according to the gatekeepers at the psychiatric hospitals -- lack of insight. When I externed at Beth Israel inpatient psychiatric unit, patients were virtually always released the moment they showed insight into their problem.
I imagine that part of the reason I'm burning through this book so fast is that I want to get it over with. I do plan to finish it, but I don't think I can recommend it unless the reader is in a very good spot in his or her life. I agree that it is well written, and probably deserves its stellar literary reputation, but fair warning to sensitive individuals -- it's worse than any true crime or gory horror novel I can think of. For a fragile psyche, I think it could actually be an unhealthy reading choice.