Tahira's Reviews > The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
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Jan 29, 12

Read from January 09 to 29, 2012

When I first noticed on GoodReads that Jeffrey Eugenides had published something new, I became instantly excited. I loved The Virgin Suicides because it appealed to my romantic writing sensibilities, and I felt as though Eugenides' ability with words was lush and mesmerizing. I also loved Middlesex; the book which attested to Eugenides' capacity to tell complex, intriguing and multifaceted stories. I suppose one could say that I expected a lot from The Marriage Plot. Unfortunately, it did not deliver, at least in the way I wanted it to.

A huge point of personal dissatisfaction when reading a novel is when I find that none of the characters are likeable. None of the characters in The Marriage Plot resonated with me, and thus, the issues that these characters struggled with for the majority of the book seemed superficial and melodramatic. In other circumstances, I do not think that the central conflicts would seem quite so shallow, but when presented via pretentious and privileged characters, my sympathy existed, but not in any remarkable, honest or compassionate way.

Speaking of pretension, I could not get passed it in this novel. Though I was familiar with about 70% of the scholastic/intellectual material that Eugenides referenced, it still made the book fairly inaccessible on a practical level, and I am not totally comfortable with that. Previously, I enjoyed Eugenides verbose writing style because I felt like it added charisma, in this instance however, it felt pompous and overdone.

Otherwise, I enjoyed the portrayal of college life in the early 1980s. The social, economic and political climate (which was referenced only peripherally) interested me and felt realistic. Also, at the risk of sounding strange, I enjoyed the intellectual platform from which sex and sexuality were described and dissected--especially when considering the evolving gender roles in 1980s that had extended from the 1960s/70s sexual revolution.

In short, I didn't hate this book, but I was sufficiently disappointed. Perhaps the next one will be different.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Roseann (new)

Roseann Suggested at my book club, sounds good and would love to read it too, but since it's new it is only out in hardcover and I think it will be a hold item at the library!


Roxanne I agree with so much of your critique. A book with beautiful moments that could have been so much more had some of the pretense been cast aside. Also, as a feminist and a lover of characters with texture and multiple dimensions, I do wish we had seen Madeleine in more settings than "troubled girlfriend" or her boyfriend as a character beyond someone who is struggling with mental illness.


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