My thoughts: 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Sylvia Plath's death. Despite her fame and talent, I'm ashamed to say I know more about her infamy and death than her life. Still, there's something that has always fascinated me about Plath, so I welcomed this opportunity to dive deeper into her back story. From the earliest pages of Pain, Parties, Work, however, I realized I was as fascinated by Sylvia's time in the summer of 1953 as I was her colleagues. While Plath drew me to this book, the other women kept me turning the pages.
Winder's research for this book is remarkable. The book is laid out much like a magazine. There are frequent text boxes featuring details and quotations. Thankfully, these boxes enhance the narrative rather than distract from it. They allow Winder to demonstrate a depth of detail that could bog down the narrative; instead they provide a deeper glimpse into certain scenes.
Although I was as fascinated by the other women as I was Sylvia, this book is very much about Sylvia. Many of the other women's actions revolves around Sylvia and their recollections of her. The emphasis at this point of Sylvia's life is enchanting: she is very much on the verge of self-discoveries. By glimpsing Sylvia's life at this point, it's haunting to imagine the different paths her life might have taken from the summer of 1953.
The verdict: Pain, Parties, Work is a fascinating glimpse into the life of Sylvia Plath as a young woman, but as much as I enjoyed this part of Sylvia, I was as drawn to the other young women just as much. This book is a window into one summer in the lives of many remarkable women. That one of them was Sylvia Plath is not nearly as impressive as I expected it to be.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Length: 288 pages
Publication date: April 16, 2013
Source: publisher via TLC Book Tours
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