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The Marriage Plot [Paperback]

Jeffrey Eugenides
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts... Nov. 22 2011
By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Instead of the three generations featured in Eugenides' Pulitzer winning "Middlesex," "The Marriage Plot" presents three individuals: Madeleine Hanna, an attractive, unconfident WASP; Leonard Bankhead, her on-and-off brilliant and brooding boyfriend; and Mitchell Grammaticus, a Michigan Greek who yearns in alternation for Madeleine and for God. The novel opens on the day the three graduate from Brown, returns to back story, then follows their first year in the "real world". Seeking sanctity, Mitchell heads to Europe and India; the other two keep house on Cape Cod, where Leonard studies yeast in a genetics lab and Madeleine applies to graduate school.

The novel contains a marriage but concerns itself neither with matrimony nor love; at heart, it is a coming-of-age drama that possesses the joys and pains of lived experience. With sympathy, modulation and deftness, Eugenides gives immediacy to Mitchell's struggle with spirituality, to Leonard's battle against mental illness and to Madeleine and Leonard's tenuous relationship. But, despite a wry, engaging and beautifully constructed story, "The Marriage Plot" sells its characters short. Mitchell's religious exploration grows tedious and ultimately gets dismissed as a sublimation of his desire for Madeline. And, though the novel's point of view alternates, Leonard receives only a single section before it virtually shuts out his voice.

Madeline, the supposed protagonist who initially seems to be on an interesting journey to maturity, eventually recedes behind Leonard's needs. No journey comes to fruition; she never discovers her vocation, which leaves the reader unable to imagine her as an adult. Perhaps that's the point of this deconstructionist novel but, if so, such obscurity comes at the cost of a truly enjoyable read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Middlesex Feb. 22 2012
By no_name
My loving of this book was probably helped by re-reading Middlesex a year ago.
I was fascinated mainly by the quality of writing: the way different scenes are intertwined, going back and forth, clarifying facts and situations. I read it in a weekend; couldn't put it down.
Don't read this book if you expect a plot: there is none, only life with ups and downs, joy and ugliness, coming up to age, brilliantly painted.
This book, together with Unbroken (Laura Hillebrand) and Dovekeepers (Alice Hoffmann) were the best three I read in 2011.
Loved it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars yawn fest March 6 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was really looking forward to diving into this book - made it to the 1/2 way point and just couldn't go on.
Tedious is the word that comes to mind.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatifying June 17 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex are books of incredible depth. They can be re-read over and over, and still the reader gets pleasure from the story, from the prose and from the overarching themes. The Marriage Plot, though well-written, does not come close to the depth of the Author's other two books. The protagonists are boring, the setting is boring and the action, of what there is, is boring. The Virgin Suicides was a in-depth examination of isolation, angst and suburbia - the Marriage Plot was an examination of vaguely rich people sort of interacting with or beside each other. I had high expectations of this book, and was ultimately disappointed.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Don't Understand the Hype Jan. 14 2014
By Kelsi
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book was well written but I found the two male characters really unlikable. I thought the book was a bit slow, *Virgin Suicides* was much, much better.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Marriage Plot June 25 2012
OMG -- So Eugenides!!! And Eugenides should be used as an adverb!!! This Man is such an incredible author, kinda like Wally Lamb and others whom we could wish would produce more frequently!!! But obviously not, as it takes more time to produce quality rather than quantity!.. Jeffery, I live for your every novel. You speak to the human condition. Thank you for The Marriage Plot. I live with many people with bi-polar disorder alias manic depression. In a world of lithium induced mental states we are meant to realize the true impact of the disorder -- the way it was back then -- before today's pharmaceuticals. The impact this has on today's survivors -- are we producing zombies at the expense of levelling the mood of society? Society needs to understand the impact of mental illness, how it affects all of us and how to develop strategies to help survivors cope with mental illness. We cannot continue to sweep mental illness under the rug -- it affects all of us in some way, shape or form.
Jeffery -- I sooooo wanted Madeleine to be with Mitchell!! Seemed that they would be so perfect together. Henceforth, they sought out their own journeys and hopefully in the end would ultimately find themselves, but find each other.
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4.0 out of 5 stars No Middlesex, but a great book nonetheless March 31 2012
By Aggie G
This is a very enjoyable book with interesting characters and a good story. I found it very well written and have already recommended it. The trick is that you can't compare it to Middlesex as you read since it is nowhere near that level of genius. That said, it is definitely still worth reading and I'm glad Jeffrey Eugenides is still writing.
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