Oct 23, 11
Read from October 18 to 22, 2011
There are a lot of eloquently-written reviews of The Marriage Plot. This is not one of them.
I'm still trying to get my head around this one and I'm finding that I'm having a hard time talking about it. I liked it fine, but I didn't love it. It was no Middlesex, yet I inhaled 300 pages yesterday.
From the beginning, I felt I was missing a lot of references and symbolism. I've never studied semiotics; I've never read Derrida or Barthes. Yes, Jeffrey Eugenides, you're better read and more clever than me.
Still, the story was a good, old fashioned "marriage plot" novel and a compelling read. Madeline was entirely flat and predictable (Eugenide's college fantasy?) but Leonard was a wonderfully complex and painful character. Mitchell Grammaticus had a funny name that sort of got in my way.
And I don't typically nit-pick these sorts of things (I do in my brain but rarely in a review...) but most college campuses were devoid of recycling bins in 1982-83 and Moleskine notebooks were not commercially available in the United States until 1997. Sorry. That bugs and is a failing (a small one, albeit) of the author and his editor.
I recommend this book. Was it my favorite of the year? Nope. My favorite Eugenides? Nope. But it's a Eugenides all the same and now I'm just disappointed I have to wait for his fourth novel.