Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York Summer 1953


Sylvia Plath, a name you may recognize as the author of The Bell Jar, and as the young woman who was on her way to a wonderful career only to commit suicide at the age of 32.

But before these invents, in 1953 a 23 year old Sylvia Plath was a young beautiful girl with the world at her fingertips. She was a guest editor for the fashion magazine Mademoiselle and was given a month in New York.  Besides working with the magazine, Sylvia was also able to attend lavish parties, plays, ballet and more.

Sylvia was on her way.  This time in New York helped shape Sylvia’s writing in good ways, but also created in her an anxiety that would play out for the rest of her life. Told in part by those who knew her then, Pain, Parties, Work is a captivating story of a girl who could have left an entirely different legacy than the one we know her for.



Since my book club read The Bell Jar, I have had an interest in Sylvia Plath’s life.  It is hard to look at the girl that is talked about in this book as self assured, almost ahead of her time; and then see how it all ended just 9 years later.

I listened to this book on audio and found it to be very engaging.  I enjoyed hearing what those who knew her thought of her then… no one seen what was to come.

It was nice to actually listen to this “before” story.  I take comfort in knowing that Sylvia was not always battling her anxiety and depression to such a level that  paralyzed her.  While The Bell Jar is the last published work of Sylvia’s, published shortly before her death, it carries with it an entirely different feel than this book.  Pain Parties Work is a book I would recommend to those who are curious about Sylvia Plath’s days as a young girl with big dreams.  I found this book to be well done.

27 thoughts on “Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York Summer 1953

  1. I’ve been wanting to read this one….I read and loved The Bell Jar in the early sixties, when I was in college. An unforgettable read by a tormented soul, I have thought about her often.

  2. Oh, nice. I didn’t know this existed and I have always wanted to read a good book about Plath. On the wish list it goes! (I need to stop visiting your blog because I keep wanting to go to Audible afterwards! Maybe it was better when I wasn’t blog-hopping. LOL)

  3. This sounds very interesting, I hadn’t heard of it before, thanks for telling me about it. I must re-read The Bell Jar too – so many years since I read it.

  4. I have been wanting to read this. I am a huge fan of Plath’s. Not only has she inspired my poetry, but also a novel I have been working on. She haunts my character, FYI. I think she was a brilliant woman far ahead of her time. I like reading biographies on her. I have so many to read, though. She is that one author that there are just too many facets to her life to be overlooked.

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