Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom

A Story
Narrated by: Orlagh Cassidy
Length: 43 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (27 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

This newly discovered story by literary legend Sylvia Plath stands on its own and is remarkable for its symbolic, allegorical approach to a young woman’s rebellion against convention and forceful taking of control of her own life.

Written while Sylvia Plath was a student at Smith College in 1952, Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom tells the story of a young woman’s fateful train journey.

Lips the color of blood, the sun an unprecedented orange, train wheels that sound like “guilt, and guilt, and guilt”: These are just some of the things Mary Ventura begins to notice on her journey to the ninth kingdom.

“But what is the ninth kingdom?” she asks a kind-seeming lady in her carriage. “It is the kingdom of the frozen will”, comes the reply. “There is no going back.”

Sylvia Plath’s strange, dark tale of female agency and independence, written not long after she herself left home, grapples with mortality in motion.

©2019 The Estate of Sylvia Plath (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Unusual, early gem from Sylvia Plath

“Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom”, while not perfect, is a fascinating, intriguing read (or listen), worthy of going though a second time, to study the language and explore the allegory at work.
Written when Sylvia Plath was only 20, it’s not as concise or confident in its wording as in her later prose and poetry, as she hadn’t yet fully found her voice as a writer. Even so, it’s a rather unique and fascinating little tale.
For readers interested in Plath the person and what made her tick, this story definitely adds detail, giving a further glimpse into what was going through her head at the time, as far as conformity and the expectations of others. It also shows an unusual imagination that isn’t afraid to go a little dark to get its ideas across. The fact that Mademoiselle magazine rejected the story is no surprise. A bittersweet tale of a debutante’s ball it isn’t.
As literature it may not be to everyone’s liking, and it isn’t even particularly typical of Plath. So be careful with your expectations going into it. If you approach it in the right context, you may find it fascinating.
And as for the audiobook, the narrator is perfect.

7 people found this helpful

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Why not!

A very short, approachable listen. I appreciate what Sylvia Plath is getting at with this. Not world-altering, but worth it!