Book Review: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

17 Dec

The Marriage PlotMy Review:  A regrettable 2.5 out of 5 stars

I say regrettable because I had HIGH hopes for this book.  This author is one of my favorite novelists of all time.  If you’ve never read Middlesex, it was the winner of the Pulitzer prize in 2003 and is my second most favorite book ever.  It’s just so good!  I know, that’s not very descriptive but this isn’t a review of that book.  He also wrote The Virgin Suicides, which is pretty amazing as well.  I suppose no author will turn out a prize winner every single time so perhaps I should go easy on Jeffrey.  But I’ve been waiting for almost 10 years for this and I have to say it was a complete letdown.

The story is about 3 students at a college on the east coast, their lives crossing at random points throughout college and after.  The main character Madeline and her boyfriend are both literature majors and the book is full of references to different authors and time periods of writing.  I actually think that’s what the title is drawing on – the books in the 19th century and how marriage was synonymous with love (or something like that, I wasn’t paying close attention).  The third character, Mitchell, is in love with Madeline but very little of the story focuses on scenes where he’s with her – after graduation he tours Europe and India looking for religion (or something like that, I wasn’t paying close attention).  Are you still awake? 

I finished the novel, which believe it or not does tell you how much respect I have for this author.  If it were anyone else’s book I would have thrown in the towel after the first 100 pages.  If I set aside the subject matter and focus on the storytelling itself, even that wasn’t as Eugenides-y as I had hoped.  I mean, he does have a knack for the written word, but it just seemed so…average.  Madeline’s boyfriend, Leonard, is manic and his breakdowns are described in first person, which is very well done.  I give Eugenides credit for capturing the essence of the no-win situation being bi-polar is.  But aside from that, I am going to re-read Middlesex and try to pretend this novel wasn’t written by the same author.  You can barely tell that it was so that shouldn’t be hard.  Disappointed!

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One Response to “Book Review: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides”

  1. Cassie December 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    I have high hopes too! BLEH! I’m nervous to read it because I usually don’t love books that everyone else loves…

    Thanks for your honest review and for going against the “status quo.”

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