Extended Audio Sample

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

Extended Audio Sample Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953, by Elizabeth Winder Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Elizabeth Winder Narrator: Xe Sand Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
Regular Price: $18.99 Download
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $14.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Download learn more )

“I dreamed of New York, I am going there.”

On May 31, 1953, twenty-year-old Sylvia Plath arrived in New York City for a one-month stint at Mademoiselle to be a guest editor for its prestigious annual college issue. Over the next twenty-six days, the bright, blond New England collegian lived at the Barbizon Hotel, attended Balanchine ballets, watched a game at Yankee Stadium, and danced at the West Side Tennis Club. She typed rejection letters to writers from The New Yorker and ate an entire bowl of caviar at an advertising luncheon. She stalked Dylan Thomas and fought off an aggressive diamond-wielding delegate from the United Nations. She took hot baths, had her hair done, and discovered her signature drink (vodka, no ice). Young, beautiful, and on the cusp of an advantageous career, she was supposed to be having the time of her life.

Drawing on in-depth interviews with fellow guest editors whose memories infuse these pages, Elizabeth Winder reveals how these twenty-six days indelibly altered how Plath saw herself, her mother, her friendships, and her romantic relationships, and how this period shaped her emerging identity as a woman and as a writer. Pain, Parties, Work—the three words Plath used to describe that time—shows how Manhattan’s alien atmosphere unleashed an anxiety that would stay with her for the rest of her all-too-short life.

Thoughtful and illuminating, this captivating portrait invites us to see Sylvia Plath before The Bell Jar, before she became an icon—a young woman with everything to live for.

Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “An illuminating biography…which floods clarifying light on a chapter of the poet’s early life that Plath painted in jaundiced tones in The Bell Jar.”

    New York Times

  • “Winder has painstakingly sketched a fully fleshed out portrait of Plath’s life during that hot, seminal summer, offering a glimpse into the raison d’etre behind Plath’s revered 1963 roman a clef, The Bell Jar…Winder goes into the dizzying, delightful detail.”

    USA Today

  • “A pixilated gem of a book…In prose as delightful and lively as the champagne Sylvia liked to sip at the St. Regis ball, Winder has made Pain, Parties, Work a prose poem of the senses, and a true account of The Bell Jar.”

    Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, New York Times bestselling authors of Furious Love

  • “Captivating…[Winder] makes a compelling argument that in New York…Plath moved closer to finding the voice that would define her writing.”

    Slate Magazine

  • “Winder convincingly shows that Plath should be recognized as much for her enjoyment of life and her enduring works as for her tragic death.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Winder poignantly captures a snapshot of a time that directly inspired one of Plath’s most famous works. She also captures Plath as bright, vivacious…For fans, particularly devotees of The Bell Jar.”

    Library Journal

  • “Winder describes the aesthetics of the era beautifully…Reading this book sparks feelings of impossible nostalgia for someone who didn’t live through the fifties; in this way, it is an experience akin to watching Mad Men.”


  • “The book offers a new perspective on Plath’s life courtesy of Winder’s exhaustive research.”

    Women’s Wear Daily

  • “Will recalibrate your mind and heart…We knew about Plath’s ambition—and angst—but her penchant for flaming-red lipstick and princess heels was a bit of a surprise.”

    More Magazine

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author

Elizabeth Winder is also the author of a poetry collection. Her work has appeared in the Chicago Review, the Antioch Review, American Letters, and other publications. She is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and earned an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University.