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Book Review

September 20, 2012
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‘The Marriage Plot’


Courtesy of Beaverdale Books

Review by Barb Palar

By Jeffrey Eugenides

Published by Picador USA

9/4/2012

$16

406 pp

Jeffrey Eugenides… Hmm, sounds familiar. Oh yeah, he’s the guy who wrote the wildly popular “Middlesex.” Oh, and also “Virgin Suicides.” Really? Well, I wonder which one of those two very different pieces of work his latest novel will more closely resemble. The answer? Neither. So, whether you loved or hated either of his previous books, there’s a chance you could also love or hate “The Marriage Plot.”

“It’s a coming-of-age tale and love triangle of a young woman and two young men who have just graduated from Brown University in 1982. Eugenides, in an NPR interview, lamented the fact that he was born too late to weave a Jane Austen-style tale of finding a suitable marriage partner. He soaks this regret in the form of this book’s female character, Madeleine, who is somewhat obsessed with Austen and has written her senior thesis about Austen’s work. Madeleine finds herself torn between two loves: Leonard, a manic-depressive biology major, and Mitchell, who is into Christian mysticism and believes that he and Maddy are destined for each other. Madeleine and Leonard head to Cape Cod to move in together, while Mitchell is off to India to work with Mother Teresa. As the three move from campus to the “real world,” they discover — as most of us do — that they have been living on some sort of parallel planet for four years and that they need to not only rediscover, but also reinvent, who they have become and the paths they will now take, individually or together. Madeleine, a product of her era (as is Eugenides), has studied the concept of love and marriage so thoroughly in college that she has become skeptical of it. Yet she finds herself falling in love. Her observations of her own parents’ relationship and her frustration with them add to her angst. CV



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