Kalen's Reviews > The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
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Oct 23, 11

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bookshelves: 2011-reads
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.
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Mike I agree, I was really hoping to love this, so I waited until I finished it to read your comments. Madeleine was no Isabel Archer or Dorothea Brooke, so I never brought myself to care for her after about 1/2 way through. The ending felt rushed and forced -- would Madeleine's parents have let Mitchell hang around as a house guest for weeks for no apparent reason? Of the three, I found my sympathies going to Leonard, after all he is ill, but the story and the narrator in essence just writes him out. Don't worry about the all the semiotics, Kalen, I read all those writers, and the references don't really add much. I'd hoped for so much more. Now I wish I'd got it from the library.

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