The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
The Bell Jar chronicles the breakdown of the brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful Esther Greenwood -- the descent into a horrible, life-consuming depression from which it seems as though there is no relief. At the beginning of the novel, Esther is seemingly normal. But it quickly becomes clear that Esther is unhappy with her life. She sees everything through a bell jar, through glasses which make everything around her look as negative as possible. It’s a frighteningly simple setback that tips the scales and leaves Esther in the full throes of depression.
Plath presents a hauntingly real portrayal of depression in The Bell Jar for good reason: the novel is based on her own experiences. As a result, Plath gets deep into Esther’s mind, into her emotions. While it’s disturbing, Plath doesn’t go for cheap shock value, as is too often the case in books dealing with mental illness. Esther’s emotions and feelings seem real; they have depth, and readers won’t help but be able to sympathize with Esther. It makes for a heavy read, though it’s never difficult – Plath’s steady prose ensures that the reader is never too bogged down to appreciate what is happening.
Sylvia Plath brilliantly draws the reader into Esther's breakdown with such intensity that her insanity becomes palpably real, even rational—as accessible an experience as going to the movies. A deep penetration into the darkest and most harrowing corners of the human psyche. Shocking, realistic and intensely emotional.
It’s easy to see why The Bell Jar has become such a modern classic.
(Summary borrowed from http://skrishnasbooks.com and Amazon.com)