Friday, August 03, 2012

‘The Marriage Plot’ by Jeffrey Eugenides

3 August 2012

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Marriage Plot’ by Jeffrey Eugenides (as an unabridged audio book, narrated by David Pittu). I very much enjoyed Eugenides’ previous novel ‘Middlesex’ (2002) – an unusual, ambitious, clever and gripping tale of gender, family history and inheritance. ‘The Marriage Plot’ is a more conventional novel: the plot concerns the three members of a love triangle who meet at university in the 1980s. It’s not really a campus novel: the book opens on graduation day and although the story of their university years is told in flashback (from each of the three perspectives) we are more concerned with what happens to the main characters after they leave university. Madeleine has been studying 18th and 19th century fiction and is fascinated by whether ‘the marriage plot’ – resolving a novel by having the two main protagonists marry, a mainstay of Jane Austen – is no longer viable in an age of divorce and remarriage, where the wedding is no longer necessarily the end of the story. Inevitably Madeleine’s own story plays with ‘the marriage plot’ and keeps us guessing about her romantic future. Eugenides also looks sensitively and achingly at manic depression and way it affects the lives of the sufferer and all the people around them.



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