Kelly's Reviews > The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
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Jan 06, 12

Read in January, 2012

I did not review Middlesex as anything I had to say about the book felt woefully inadequate, and, despite the fact a page of copy and pasted declarations such as, I LOVE THIS BOOK, would indicate that I had, in fact enjoyed the book, it would hardly do it justice.

It is as hard to contemplate reviewing The Marriage Plot, but I will try. In short, it is a wonderful book, the story and characters as engrossing as I hoped they would be, the conclusion just about what I expected, which is not to say I did not hope for something different. A novel, however, particularly one from this author, is much more than its ending.

One of the things I particularly like about Jeffrey Eugenides’ novels is the depth of detail. It can be a little distracting at first to segue ten years into the past, skip forward five years, revisit a childhood memory and then land in the present, but he never loses you on the way. The memories are vibrant and valid and integral to the moment. They are necessary and written in such a way as to be as engrossing as the story. In a way, they become the story.

The book is not overpopulated and the secondary characters are as multidimensional as they need to be without detracting from those we need to hear about – and I use the word ‘need’ here on purpose. There is a certain hunger for detail that only further reading can satisfy, which is what makes the depth of Madeleine, Mitchell and Leonard so wonderful. You might not think you need to know about a whiff of body odor, or chilled fingers or how a freshly shorn scalp feels, but when blended into the narrative, these details become natural and necessary. The characters are deep and we do need to know these things in order to continue our relationship with them.

The story is sad, but does not dwell on its sadness. There are moments of absurd humour that jolt surprised laughter and moments of heartbreaking empathy. Though the ending satisfied (it might not do the same for every reader), the door is not closed. I felt I could extrapolate a different conclusion, further along, if I wanted to, with the author’s blessing.

All in all, a wonderful book (I’ve only said it twice and I didn’t capitalize it) and one I recommend without hesitation to readers of all genres.
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