The Marriage Plot - Jeffrey Eugenides

Title: The Marriage Plot: a novel
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Pages: 2239 (576 pages)
Published: 2011
Challenges: 2012 Library Challenge
Genre: Literary Fiction
Edition: ebook
Source: Library
Rating: 3/5

Description: Madeleine Hanna was the dutiful English major who didn''t get the memo. While everyone else in the early 1980s was reading Derrida, she was happily absorbed with Jane Austen and George Eliot: purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. Madeleine was the girl who dressed a little too nicely for the taste of her more bohemian friends, the perfect girlfriend whose college love life, despite her good looks, hadn''t lived up to expectations.

But now, in the spring of her senior year, Madeleine has enrolled in a semiotics course "to see what all the fuss is about," and, for reasons that have nothing to do with school, life and literature will never be the same. Not after she falls in love with Leonard Morten - charismatic loner, college Darwinist and lost Oregon boy - who is possessed of seemingly inexhaustible energy and introduces her to the ecstasies of immediate experience. And certainly not after Mitchell Grammaticus - devotee of Patti Smith and Thomas Merton - resurfaces in her life, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

The triangle in this amazing and delicious novel about a generation beginning to grow up is age old, and completely fresh and surprising. With devastating wit, irony and an abiding understanding and love for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides resuscitates the original energies of the novel while creating a story so contemporary that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives (via

Thoughts: This one took me awhile to get this book read as I found it to a bit of a struggle to get through and found myself going through each section breaking down how far I was into a section on a regular basis.  There were times that I tore through a section and would soon found myself slowing down in the next section.   And therefore I found myself not wanting to read it and in fact last weekend, I didn't read any of the book and only got back into reading the final quarter of the book in the last few days, once I realized I only had a few more days with it.  I guess I expected more out of the book, especially since I had really enjoyed The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex; I found this one to be a little too cumbersome and something that I felt that I was doing out of obligation rather than pure enjoyment, much like how Madeleine made her choices throughout the book.

I did like the fact that there wasn't just one focus and that there were differing views of a similar time period and that it alternated between three of the four main characters in the book.  It was certainly an interesting way to tell a story and it felt like it captured a moment in time in their lives and has me wondering what happened to Leonard, Mitchell, and Madeleine and what happened to their relationship.

Bottom line:  I wasn't particularly impressed with this book and had slightly higher expectations of the book.  While the writing and the characterizations in the book were really good, it just didn't draw me in; the story with the three characters seemed to be a little lost at times and had a bit of an aimless feel to and is probably something that I won't pick up again.  Its a good read for a vacation, but nothing really mind blowing.
Pages for 2012: 3287

If you have read the book, I am curious to hear what you thought of the book.



TP said…
I read it and discussed it a week or 2 ago and pretty much agreed with you - slow going through the first 60-100 pages. After that it picked up a bit.

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