By Carl Rollyson
St. Martin’s Press, $29.99, 319 pages
Having read ‘The Bell Jar,’ by Sylvia Plath, I’m familiar with her fictitious life; however her personal life was one that I have only read in bits and pieces. After reading, American Isis by Carl Rollyson, I can see where her personal life came to influence her writing. Rollyson’s work is the first biography of Plath that I have ever read and don’t have anything to compare it to. The main difference between this work and previous ones is that this draws from the Ted Hughes’s recently opened archive. However, it is an informative work and gives one a picture into the life of Plath. One can see where her bipolar begins and the pressure that not only Plath put on herself both at home, but while attending Smith. Throughout the book, one can see how both parents influenced her writing, her subjects, and how she presented herself to them throughout her life, always trying harder to better herself and in the end coming up short. Rollyson’s writing is for the experienced Plath biographer, not for the virgin one. Remember this when pursuing your local bookstore and the Wikipedia version might better suit the casual reader who just wants a brief overview of Ms. Plath. I leave you the reader, with a tidbit to ponder that its been over 50 years since we lost the voice of Ms. Plath as her children slept nearby and the world watched for what would happen next.
Reviewed by Annie Hicks