The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot

Book - 2011
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A New York Times Notable Book of 2011
A Publisher's Weekly Top 10 Book of 2011
A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Best Fiction of 2011 Title
One of Library Journal 's Best Books of 2011
A Salon Best Fiction of 2011 title
One of The Telegraph 's Best Fiction Books of the Year 2011

It's the early 1980s--the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.

As Madeleine tries to understand why "it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France," real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead--charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy--suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old "friend" Mitchell Grammaticus--who's been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange--resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can't escape the secret responsible for Leonard's seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the Novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.

Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780374203054
Characteristics: 406 p. ; 24 cm


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Sep 27, 2017

Wordy.Liked it over all, re: spiritual quest however, character flirts with Christianity but does not talk about sin, forgiveness thereof; woman in Greece - about emotion in worship, not forgiveness; seeker(s) of gifts (both) not the giver which a lot of us want of course. Birth control mentioned once in the book, plenty of sex without it, consequences thereof that is.

brianreynolds Feb 21, 2017

I'll admit there were times when a little less psychology/theology/ philosophy might have improved the feast for me, but a feast it was. The three characters of the triangular romance might have lacked the heroic mantles of comic book lovers, but they were real enough, detailed enough, life-like enough that I was absorbed in their dilemmas and journeys, their foibles and humanity. Eugenides' "marriage plot" was not always comfortable or predictable, but in the end it seemed true.

Feb 18, 2017

Wow. If only books matched the reviews of people who were paid to write them. Not the case with this book. I honestly have not liked any of Eugenides books but this one is dreadful. Boring, pompous, and pointless. Written for people with an English PhD with no sense of the real world around them. Dripping with superfluous language and name dropping of authors and literary works that only those who have studied literature and English extensively will understand. Characters are boring and pointless as is the plot, or lack thereof, of this book.

Sep 29, 2016

Only got half way through. I thought it was auto-biographical, with one character representing the author's experience as a young man. Entertaining for a while but then got dull. Character driven is fine but this is not insightful.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 03, 2016

Unlike Middlesex, which was very plot-centered, The Marriage Plot is almost solely character driven. If you like the three main characters—everyone else in the novel is very forgettable—you'll likely enjoy the novel. Without that connection, however, there is little else to hold onto—the plot is simple and the language fairly minimalistic. If you're a hundred pages into this novel and you hate these characters, nothing will change your mind over the next 300 pages. That's not to say that these characters are not hateable—that's part of their allure—but a reader who isn't routing for one character or another is going to find this read incredibly boring.

Add Eugenides' slightly meta fictional twist to the concept of the marriage plot and you've got a winner. No, it's not quite Middlesex, but really, did we want it to be?

Jan 13, 2016

I enjoyed Middlesex. This one, not so much. I struggled to read it through to the very end, hoping I would be rewarded with something worthy of my time. It never got better.

Oct 29, 2015

horrible. Can't believe that the author of The Virgin Suicides wrote this. I'm only half way thru. Not sure if I'll be able to finish it. No character is likable. They're all just miserable and boring, talking about theology, literature and philosophy 24 hours a day. Have you ever heard anybody use the words jejune and versimilitude? UGGH

Aug 04, 2015

Didn't finish, boring

Jul 21, 2015

I like this novel and couldn't stop to read it till the end. A lot of details, interesting discussions and a lot of things to think about.

Jul 03, 2015

The problem that exists when academics write novels is that they must quote at least a hundred other authors to support their point. Novels aren't university essays; character and plot development is required; story matters. When an author relies heavily on other people's quotes, that tells me that they don't have an original thought in their own heads. The three characters are forgettable and this novel is downright depressing. In fact, half of the book tackles manic-deression in a lead character and shows no redeeming factors.

The cover says Eugenides is a "winner of the Pulitzer Prize" Huh? On what grounds?

According to the other reviewers, "Middlesex" is a much better novel (and the winner of the Pulitzer) so now I am off to read it.

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Jul 21, 2015

dusyaka thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

brendotroy Dec 13, 2011

brendotroy thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


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