Summer 2013 Review

Pain, Parties, Work

This month’s review is by Lida Bushloper
Pain, Parties, Work: 
Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953
by Elizabeth Winder

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

This engaging book is only a partial biography of the tragic poet, and you don’t have to be a Plath fan to enjoy it.  In talking about Plath’s one month in New York as a guest editor at Mademoiselle Magazine, along with 19 other college girls, the author recaptures an America that most of us now see as seriously flawed.  We can look back with nostalgia at the fashions, beauty products and entertainments that defined the 1950’s, but Winder also illuminates the rigid gender roles, the class system, the sexual restrictions and the limited choices that negatively affected most of the nation’s people, but especially, its young women.  Plath and her fellow interns endure a grueling month of apprenticeship, while getting a coveted look inside the worlds of fashion, publishing, and advertising, meeting celebrities and being squired around Manhattan by dashing young men, and generally burning the candle at both ends.  The book is a splendid recreation of Plath’s life just before her first suicide attempt, and all the more poignant since we know how it all ends.

Call # Status: 921 Plath New Book Section