Dorian's Reviews > The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
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Dec 22, 2011

it was ok

How disappointing! Where is the Eugenides of The Virgin Suicides? Where is the rich, inspired prose? Where are the ideas? Eugenides seems to have as narrow a view of the English classic realist fiction he is ostensibly upholding as he does of the literary theory that he is patently satirizing. (Nevermind that theory helped us to read--and enjoy!--such fiction in new and compelling ways.) The book is most interesting in its depiction of manic depression (and least interesting--even most embarrassing--in its dutiful travelogue of India). Ever since Cecilia impaled herself on a spiked fence near the beginning of The Virgin Suicides, I've suspected that the book Eugenides most wants to rewrite is Mrs. Dalloway. I've a confused notion that, Victoriana aside, he still has that aim in mind in the new book: Leonard a Septimus Smith that we come to know more about--which would make Madeline Rezia (and not the "tinsely" Clarissa her WASP-y upbringing might suggest. But surely Rezia, however little we know her, is a warmer, more loving character than Madeline. Eugenides does best when he asks the modernist questions of how can we know what we know, and how can we convey that knowledge. This book is organized along quite different lines.

Anyway, I'm left trying to decide if the occasional flashes of interesting prose are enough to make me follow Eugenides's career in the future.
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