Jillwilson's Reviews > The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
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Nov 13, 2011

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Read in November, 2011

This book deserves at least 3 and a half stars - I wish Good Reads had more differentiation in the ratings. I read this novel because of an article I read about the writer and this novel titled 'How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Write ‘The Marriage Plot’'. I really liked the article and thought the book sounded good (http://www.themillions.com/2011/10/ho...)

The article quotes from the actual text of the book:
"In Saunders’s opinion, the novel had reached its apogee with the marriage plot and had never recovered from its disappearance. In the days when success had depended on marriage, and marriage had depended on money, novelists had had a subject to write about. The great epics sang of war, the novel of marriage. Sexual equality, good for women, had been bad for the novel. And divorce had undone it completely. What would it matter who Emma married if she could file for separation later? How would Isabel Archer’s marriage to Gilbert Osmond have been affected by the existence of a prenup? As far as Saunders was concerned, marriage didn’t mean anything anymore, and neither did the novel."

Who wouldn't want to read a book playing around with what was possible in a post-marriage plot world? It's set largely in about 1982 in north eastern America and it's about a triangle relationship - Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell. Because I was young then (1982) and just out of uni, the novel draws in aspects of my cultural world - vey nostalgically appealing. It might not work so well with another demographic. As I drew towards the end, I was intrigued to think about how Eugenides would end it - it seemed to me to be VERY difficult to find a satisfying end - but he really manages this part well. I loved reading about the advent of post-structuralism and the impact it made at this time. He also writes well about manic depression. It's made me want to read more of his books.

The Guardian gives the novel a less than enthusiastic review - I liked it more than they did though there is a lot of merit in this review:
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Comments (showing 1-7)

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Christine Palau Thanks for the link to the article. Just started reading the book.

message 6: by Lisa (new)

Lisa If marriage doesn't mean anything anymore why is the Labor Party giving itself a conscience vote on the matter of same sex marriage in 2011?
The Labor Party is putting paid to any real possibilities for entirely new marriage plot lines for the next 20 or 50 years.

Heterosexual people must do more, to speak up on behalf of their homosexual children, brothers, sisters and friends who do not have the same rights as them when it comes to marriage equality (if only for more intriguing plot lines).

Seriously, one cannot help but feel that when it comes to love; the deep respect, commitment and intimacy I share with my partner is not equal. Is that how you feel? Do you agree with Julia? How would your conscience vote?

Katie Thank you for the links. Lisab- the opinion that marriage is dead was a quoted passage from the novel, said by an old English lit professor in the context of the structure of 19th century romance novels. If you read the book, you might better understand the title of The Marriage Plot. If you are familiar with Eugenudes' work, then you will likely conclude that the author is sympathetic to the plight of equal rights for people of all sexual preferences.

Katy Hi Jill, snap! I just finished this book whilst away and really enjoyed it. I read it because 'Middlesex' is one of my all-time favourites...and 'The Virgin Suicides' is also brilliant. Highly recommended if you haven't read these already...enjoy!

Jillwilson Hey Lise

Have lobbied my MP - Roxon on topic of same-sex marriage. There was a good article yesterday in The Age - http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/poli...

I'm bewildered by Julia's response - it's really disappointing.

message 2: by Lisa (new)

Lisa I guess it was a plea for action and I used your book review as a vehicle for getting onto this subject. I feel vindicated now that you were moved to contact Roxon and sincerely appreciate your support for marriage equality. Josh Frydenberg's response was shameful. I'll read it to you at Bookclub.

Jillwilson Good - there should be passion and pleas for action - it is completely ridiculous that we haven't done what tons of less likely countries have done.

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