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The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
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The Marriage Plot (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Jeffrey Eugenides

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3,1272001,798 (3.53)184
Member:miss_read
Title:The Marriage Plot
Authors:Jeffrey Eugenides
Info:Fourth Estate (2011), Edition: First Edition first Printing, Hardcover, 440 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
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The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides (2011)

Recently added bywilliamsalzmann, ivelaquon, Lalabert, davidoff, RenzeeLee, private library, amydelpo, alo1224, mamzel
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Showing 1-5 of 185 (next | show all)
A well-written and entertaining book that is occasionally thought-provoking -- but not as often as it strives to be. If you are nostalgic for that time right after college when you are just discovering the meaning of adult love and finding out who you are and where your path leads in this world, then this book will appeal to you. Otherwise, it will sometimes feel trite and naive. ( )
  amydelpo | Dec 9, 2014 |
An early-80s love triangle among college seniors made slightly more interesting by throwing in a severe case of bipolar disorder. Actually, that part of it really resonated with me: as a bipolar sufferer myself (though with far milder symptoms), I can sympathize with Leonard's troubles. As the wife of a man with OCD, I can sympathize with Madeleine's dilemmas. Mitchell's experiences with religion and poverty did not cover any new ground, and his selfishness with regard to Madeleine was tiresome. This isn't a book you read for the plot, because there isn't a whole lot: you read it for the characters. If the characters are compelling, you want to know more about them. For me, this book was mostly a way to pass the time. The ending was kind of unsatisfying, but I don't know how else it could have ended. ( )
  melydia | Oct 30, 2014 |
Eugenides always takes me a while to get through, and I felt like I was trudging through this a lot of the time. Really, I'm not super sure how I actually felt about this. I did a lot of falling asleep while reading late, and I think I would have liked it more if I were able to give it my full attention. ( )
  jaelikesbooks | Sep 23, 2014 |
Madeleine is supposed to be book crazy, but other than the classics that define her as a victorianist (a personality trait that was SAID to be central to her personality, as expressed by the wallpaper but that instead seems tacked on to the spoiled girl she really is and acts as most of the time, waiting to be asked and rescued.) she never seems to have a strong connection to any books (excepting the Barthes, yes, but that seems to be about her experience of love with Leonard than about the book itself.) So the book mad protagonist I was promised wasn't there, her thesis wasn't there, her proclaimed feminist wasn't there (guys have to ASK HER OUT, what.) She is an ideal more than a person, never completely fleshed out beyond her description and are there descriptions! Mad is always calm and soft spoken and logical (except when she marries a guy who is clearly acting crazy at 22, without jobs or prospects or anything resembling sense.)

Mitchel and Leonard, oth, get developed as characters. Mitchel gets his spiritual journey (during which HE actually does read books with which me makes a connection.) Leonard's illness was fairly interesting from his point of view, and got quite disturbing from Mad´s, who is half in denial, half in abasement, as if SHE is good enough, he will somehow get better and when he doesn't, of course she resents him for it.

Even though she takes a role of caretaker to her boyfriend, Mad is basically just reacting to his actions the whole time. The very ending, which I sort of like, is presented in a paternalistic manner that wants any grace or elegance, not to mention philosophical value. Once again, Mad makes a stupid mistake, a man comes to the rescue and makes the RIGHT choice for her. She readily agrees because they always know best! To be honest, I liked both Leonard and Mitchel till I remembered that they both fell in love with a girl that relates to them in this way and they felt it was a positive thing to have her be in a position of lesser power and dependence* (Leonard crossed a number of lines for me there.)

This was so embarrassingly pathetically male I actually had to leave the room:

Madeleine liked his new muscles. And that wasn’t all. One night, she pressed her lips to Leonard’s ear and said, as if it were news, “You are so big!” And it was true. Mr. Gumby was long gone. Leonard’s girth filled Madeleine up in a way that felt not only satisfying, but breathtaking. Every millimeter of movement, in or out, was perceptible along her inner sheath. She wanted him all the time. She’d never thought much about other boys’ penises, or noticed much about them, really. But Leonard’s was highly particular to her, almost a third presence in the bed. She found herself sometimes judiciously weighing it in her hand. Did it all come down to the physical, in the end? Is that what love was? Life was so unfair. Madeleine felt sorry for all the men who weren’t Leonard. WOW. So... I guess mania produces penis enlargement, somebody should let all those poor other men know!


* Mitchel, even though he means to 'liberate' her is very patriachal in that he makes that choice for her and not for himself (I don't want to date a girl not in love with me is a reasonable thing, expressing it as he's fulfilling her NEED instead of his, being magnanimous...) ( )
  Evalangui | Aug 22, 2014 |
Although this book lagged a bit in places, I enjoyed it. I thought the ending was wonderful, and for me, unexpected. Not quite up to the quality of "Middlesex" but good nonetheless. ( )
  meredk | Aug 4, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 185 (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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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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:32 -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.

(summary from another edition)

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