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The Marriage Plot: A Novel by Jeffrey…
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The Marriage Plot: A Novel (2011)

by Jeffrey Eugenides

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 244 mentions

English (233)  Dutch (5)  German (3)  French (2)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (247)
Showing 1-5 of 233 (next | show all)
Ugh... why? Jeffrey Eugenides' first book was about five suicidal sisters. His second was a Bildungsroman about an intersex person. His third is about... college grads trying to decide what to do with their lives. Gah, if I wanted a book like that, I'd write my memoirs. (And be completely unsurprised when no one read them.)

First we meet Madeleine, an English major at Brown University. She is a bit of an oddity because a) she likes to read and b) she likes "unfashionable" authors like Austen, James, Eliot, and Wharton. She is very attractive, as evidenced by the men around her finding her attractive. Eugenides spends pages and pages trying to convince you how special Madeleine is. (One sign is that she uses looseleaf tea instead of teabags.) The resulting portrait is of a pretty, sweet, naive, and dull young woman.

Despite being graced with more personality, the two male leads are not much better. Leonard is a budding scientist struggling with bipolar disorder. While his disease certainly makes him more sympathetic, it is no excuse for the way he treats Madeleine. (Madeleine pretty much puts up with his emotional abuse because the sex is so great.) Mitchell, a religious studies major, is a typical Nice Guy - the guy who becomes friends with you because he wants to fuck you. Unlike most love triangles, there is no reason to "ship" one pairing over the other.

The worst offense The Marriage Plot commits is that it has absolutely nothing new to say. I really hope that Eugenides didn't think he was being transgressive with the ending, where Madeleine rejects both suitors and goes to graduate school. The only way that ending would have been revolutionary is if it had happened in The Twilight Saga. ( )
  doryfish | Mar 6, 2019 |
I liked reading The Marriage Plot as Eugenides prose was so easy on my mind. I met a few English majors in grad school and was another reason I picked it up. The characters are not usually the kind I would sympathise with, and I didn't for the most part. They all redeem themselves in the end, somewhat, and it ends on sweet wistful note, good light read. ( )
  RekhainBC | Feb 15, 2019 |
I liked this book but I didn't like the way Mr. Eugenides treated Madeline. I felt like he should have had her see Leonard for who he really was to start with and not after she was already married to him. This felt a little like abuse to me. I did really like reading about Mitchell's travels around Europe and his involvement with religion. Overall, I thought the book was well written and flowed well I just would written it differently myself. ( )
  SWade0126 | Jan 11, 2019 |
The title of this, the third novel by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugenides, refers to the entanglements of three students and the plotting of Victorian romance novels. ‘The Marriage Plot ‘tells of the romantic, sexual, philosophical, religious and literary coming togethers/going aparts of a literature student Madeleine Hanna, scientist Leonard Bankhead and theology student Mitchell Grammaticus at Brown University in 1982 America. It is a tale of youthful assumptions, experimentations, dreams and disappointments. Perhaps it is a tale which will strike a chord with people of the same age as Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell, rather than those who are older.
None of the three main characters are particularly likeable and at times the book gets bogged down in literary theory, philosophy, science and religious theory. Leonard is brilliant but a manic depressive, something which colours the entire book. The portrayal of his illness is convincing and shows the knife edge of pharmaceutical dosage needed to maintain a healthy mental balance. Leonard yo-yo’s back and forth, coping and not coping, at times allowing his manic tendencies to win. Madeleine accuses him of liking being depressed all the time. Mitchell is the idealistic one who goes to India to work for Mother Theresa’s Calcutta hospice and confronts some unpalatable truths. In comparison, Madeleine seems rather spoiled. Both men dote on her however and this is the spine which holds the story together: who will Madeleine finally choose?
Eugenides describes mundane things so beautifully. “Outside, the temperature, which had remained cold through March, had shot up into the fifties. The resulting thaw was alarming in its suddenness, drainpipes and gutters dripping, sidewalks pudding, streets flooded, a constant sound of water rushing downhill.” Simple writing at its best. But at other times the writing feels manic and not just in Leonard’s sections. There is an authorial indulgence with many clever asides from the plot and characters. I soon learned to read these parts slightly out-of-focus, not worrying for example that I didn’t grasp Leonard’s sections on yeast or Mitchell’s constant references to ‘Something Beautiful for God’, Malcolm Muggeridge’s book about Mother Theresa. The last third of the book passed much quicker than the first two.
‘The Marriage Plot’ is ambitious, as ‘Middlesex’ was, and rightly so, but is perhaps the inevitable ‘difficult’ book after such a huge success. This will not deter me from reading Eugenides again.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Dec 7, 2018 |
Where does the review appear??? ( )
  Ed_Schneider | Sep 22, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 233 (next | show all)
The novel isn’t really concerned with matrimony or the stories we tell about it, and the title, the opening glance at Madeleine’s library and the intermittent talk of books come across as attempts to impose an exogenous meaning. The novel isn’t really about love either, except secondarily. It’s about what Eugenides’s books are always about, no matter how they differ: the drama of coming of age.
 
No one’s more adept at channeling teenage angst than Jeffrey Eugenides. Not even J. D. Salinger.
added by LiteraryFiction | editNew York Times, MICHIKO KAKUTANI (pay site) (Oct 6, 2011)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeffrey Eugenidesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Асланян, АннаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
People would never fall in love if they hadn't heard love talked about.
~Francois de La Rochefoucauld
And you may ask yourself, Well,
how did I get here? ...
And you may ask yourself,
This is not my beautiful house.
And you may ask yourself,
This is not my beautiful wife.
~Talking Heads
Dedication
For the roomies,
Stevie and Moo Moo
First words
To start with, look at all the books.
Quotations
Phyllida's hair was where her power resided. It was expensively set into a smooth dome, like a band shell for the presentation of that long-running act, her face.
Even now, at bed-and-breakfasts or seaside hotels, a shelf full of forlorn books always cried out to Madeline.
That left a large contingent of people majoring in English by default. Because they weren't left-brained enough for science, because history was too dry, philosophy too difficult, geology too petroleum-oriented, and math too mathematical - because they weren't musical, artistic, financially motivated, or really all that smart, these people were pursuing university degrees doing something no different from what they'd done in first grade: reading stories. English was what people who didn't know what to major in majored in.
She used a line from Trollope's Barchester Towers as an epigraph: "There is no happiness in love, except at the end of an English novel."
Reading a novel after reading semiotic theory was like jogging empty-handed after jogging with hand weights.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
English major Madeleine Hanna must choose between two suitors while working on her senior thesis on the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374203059, Hardcover)

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: Even among authors, Jeffrey Eugenides possesses a rare talent for being able to inhabit his characters. In The Marriage Plot, his third novel and first in ten years (following the Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex), Eugenides describes a year or so in the lives of three college seniors at Brown in the early 80s. There is Madeleine, a self-described “incurable romantic” who is slightly embarrassed at being so normal. There is Leonard, a brilliant, temperamental student from the Pacific Northwest. And completing the triangle is Mitchell, a Religious Studies major from Eugenides’ own Detroit. What follows is a book delivered in sincere and genuine prose, tracing the end of the students’ college days and continuing into those first, tentative steps toward true adulthood. This is a thoughtful and at times disarming novel about life, love, and discovery, set during a time when so much of life seems filled with deep portent. --Chris Schluep

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:32 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Madeleine Hanna breaks out of her straight-and-narrow mold when she falls in love with charismatic loner Leonard Bankhead, while at the same time an old friend of hers resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is his destiny.

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