The Marriage Plot

by Jeffrey Eugenides (Harper Collins) ISBN: 978-0-307-40186-1


Sticking to his “one novel per decade”, Pulitzer prize-winning, Jeffrey Eugenides, has now delivered The Marriage Plot. The novel is very different from Middlesex but, for me, as enjoyable.


We follow three young people, Madeline, Leonard and Mitchell, during their college years and first year in real life. Madeline loves books, especially the Victorian novels, Leonard is a manic-depressive biologist, and Mitchell tries to make sense of life and love through his Religious Studies.


Against the backdrop of the early 1980s the characters pursue these interests and dance with each other in that intricate dance of finding love. This is reminiscent of the way that characters search for that special other in 19th century marriage plot novels. But does it end the same way?


As with Middlesex, I was blown away by the storytelling power of Eugenides. He pulled me in from the very first page. He’s a very crafty writer who expertly plays with perspectives and timelines. He applies the rules of the 19th century marriage plot to his novel and then deviates from them in a masterful way.


With the discussions on literature, religion and genetics interweaved in the story there is a lot going on below the surface that warrants multiple readings of the book. This will hopefully tide me over until he publishes his novel for the next decade!


Josine Overdevest



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Posted on: 2nd February 2012