This has to be one of the most depressing books I have ever read, right up there, uh, down there with George Orwell. It is probably a good thing I never read this at the time, having already been profoundly affected by Orwell a few years earlier.
I will acknowledge the power of the writing, the mood of ennui and alienation is expressed so well it is catching, but that is not a good thing for me, having had my own experience with depression. I wanted it to be over, but was determined to let the story run in horrified fascination, wondering how bad it could get.
I have even toyed with obtaining a DVD of the 1972 movie the author did the script for, which was not a commercial success, but seems to have good reviews from movie buffs. Starred Tuesday Weld and Anthony Perkins. It is described as powerful and capturing the book well. I'm just not sure I could stand what is captured!
As is probably intended by the author, I could get quite irritated by the lead character. She is often doing things for no apparent reason,or profoundly illogical ones, like not wanting to stay in a hotel room because is it is purple and "her mother had once told her that purple rooms could send people into irreversible insanity". Annoying on two counts, both for believing her mother, and for actually considering applying the belief. The quality of the writing is shown by how irritating this is to me. I have met people like this, they appear witless and lost to me.
I note that although I may sound negative about this book, it has made me want to write a lot, another sign of its power. It has made me question my own sense of direction and purpose, something I have done too much of and tried to quit, and which most people are averse to doing. I recall learning at age 20 that people do not like having a casual party conversation end up questioning the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, which I was doing at the the time; that is, both the questioning and ending up conversations there.
I 'm not sure I would recommend this book to everybody, but it is very well done and a powerful read.