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The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Marriage Plot (2011)

by Jeffrey Eugenides

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English (191)  Dutch (5)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  French (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (205)
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You’ll think this is pretty good if you come to it without having first read Middlesex or The Virgin Suicides. You’ll think he’s a witty, clever incisive writer who has the ability to write what is effortless to read and with characters that you care about and want to understand. But if you’ve read those two, or even only one of them, you’ll think that he’s lost some of his shine in the near decade that elapsed between those and this.

We have a woman, Madeleine, and two men, both of whom are as flaky as your early twenties typically reveals you to be (without your knowledge at the time of course). Madeleine falls for one and then the other and then, through happenstance, ends up marrying one. This turns out to be much the latter part of for better or for worse at which point the other reappears. It’s kind of like a modern day Austen but less predictable. Actually, come to think of it, the sunrise is less predictable than Austen so that may not be a fair comparison.

Anyhow, along the way, we learn about what makes each of these three tick and why it is that they suffer from the various issues that beset someone just graduating from university. Eugenides explores themes of sanity, love, the value of a life’s work, academia, spirituality and friendship. I didn’t really appreciate this flitting around. It was like the novel really settled for me.

What I did appreciate though was exploring the Calcutta of the mid-1990s. I spent a incredibly formative 6 months living in Calcutta in 1990. It was a delight to revisit Sudder Street, Park Street Cemetery and Mother Theresa’s Home for the Destitute and Dying in Khalighat again. As Mitchell explored them and was influenced by them, I remembered how they too influenced me.

But most people aren’t going to relate to living in Calcutta. This is an okay novel from someone who can produce far better writing. ( )
  arukiyomi | Mar 28, 2015 |
semiotics and manic depression make a good book apparently. who knew. ( )
  Stuckey_Bowl | Mar 23, 2015 |
I should not have read this so close to The Interestings. They are the same book. Lovely prose about uninteresting people with a story told in multiple points-of-view via an omniscient narrative with an unhealthy dependence on flashback. Both books could have been more compelling, if they'd merely picked a character and stuck with them. Instead, everyone is superficial and glossed over, with mismatched storylines and zero momentum.

No more contemporary literary fiction for me. None! I don't care how many people sing a book's praises. No more. I swear it. ( )
  CherieDooryard | Jan 20, 2015 |
Read this because I enjoyed another book by this author, Middlesex. This started out kind of slow, and I really didn't like the main character, Madeleine. But as it went on I actually realized that the characters were written very realistically. The ending surprised me, and I was glad because I assumed all along I knew how it would end. ( )
  cindyb29 | Jan 12, 2015 |
Thoroughly enjoyable if you went to a northeast liberal arts college. Otherwise will certainly come off as snobbish and bobo intellectual. ( )
  lincolnpan | Dec 31, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 191 (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 editionsconfirmed
Асланян, АннаTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
For the roomies,
Stevie and Moo Moo
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To start with, look at all the books.
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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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.
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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.

» see all 6 descriptions

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