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The Marriage Plot (Large Print)by Jeffrey Eugenides
Addressing the ubiquitous love triangle, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides is a perfectly executed character study of three college students — Leonard, Madeleine, and Mitchell — who variously are a couple, are not a couple, were a couple, were never a couple, or were almost a couple. Ah, young love! However, absolutely nothing Eugenides writes is frivolous or insubstantial. The painful sucker punch delivered in both Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides is absent in The Marriage Plot, but the book doesn't miss it. The Marriage Plot is long on emotion and so accurately reflects our inner self-talk of angst, love, regret, and need that it feels like reading someone's diary (or maybe our own). Taking on subjects as enormous as mental illness, classism, meaningful work, religious faith, higher education, charity, self-knowledge and the nature of relationships, The Marriage Plot asks the question: Is it sometimes better to not get what you want? Eugenides is a masterful writer who doesn't shy away from uncomfortable emotions, and in his hands everyday issues reveal a deep and complex truth. Once again, the very long wait between his books has definitely been worth it.
Synopses & Reviews
It's the early 1980s--the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.
As Madeleine tries to understand why "it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France," real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead--charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy--suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old "friend" Mitchell Grammaticus--who's been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange--resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.
Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can't escape the secret responsible for Leonard's seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.
Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the Novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.
About the Author
Author of the Virgin Suicides and Middlesex, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2002.
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