The Marriage Plot, Jeffery Eugenides
On the cusp of her graduation from Brown, Madeline Hanna is about to step into adulthood and has no idea what to do next. She got rejected from her graduate programs, broke up with her boyfriend, Leonard, and doesn’t want to rely on her WASP parents. Meanwhile, Mitchell, who has long harbored a crush on Madeline is on an upswing: admired by a notable professor and about to embark on a yearlong round-the-world adventure. Eugenides provides enough road markers for the reader to guess how the plot unwinds for the next 400 pages but the love triangle of Leonard-Madeline-Mitchell is more than first meets the eye.
You’ve got to admire Jeffery Eugenides. Dude releases about one book a decade (1994/2003/2012) and manages to be consistently discussed among Book Folks. I was completely immersed in Middlesex when I read it a few years ago. It’s sweeping coverage of multiple generations across two continents gave it a grandeur that stuck with you. The Marriage Plot is a smaller book, covering just three primary characters over the course of one year or so. And for that simple reason I liked it less. Standing alone, the book is solid. It is commendably approachable for having a plot structured around Ivy League liberal arts grads. The characters are well written and convincing. If you’ve never read Eugenides, I’d start here. If you liked Middlesex, give this one a shot too.
Lizzie rating: B+