The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot

Book - 2011
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Madeleine Hanna breaks out of her straight-and-narrow mold when she falls in love with charismatic loner Leonard Bankhead, while at the same time an old friend of hers resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is his destiny.
Publisher: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374203054
0374203059
Branch Call Number: FIC EUGENID 2011
Characteristics: 406 pages ; 24 cm

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steelemily
Jul 31, 2020

I can't believe I finished this book. I wish I could go back in time to my past self and dissuade her from making the mistake of ever starting it, let alone persisting until the end. I kept hoping the impenetrable flatness of the characters' relationships would round out into something more dynamic, but they stayed true to their cardboard cut-out form until the end. Maybe it was a postmodern statement on how we are all just image-ideas to each other, inherently lacking in substance/complexity because we can't pause long enough to see past our own projections???? Or a confirmation that young straight men really don't care to know women beyond their appearance/desirability as acquisitions and their willingness to be captive & attentive audience-caretakers and that young straight women are equally objectifying in their search for men to create structure in their lives and to give them a sense of self-worth through feeling wanted??? I'm over-extrapolating for sure, but seriously the heteronormative gender relations in this book were so depressing. Maybe that was all part of the point in portraying the shifting gender dynamics in white upper class circles at the time, but if the aim was to underline how feminism has changed the marriage plot dynamic, then why did the main female character feel more like a device than a person? Mitchell's revelation at the end was heartening, but like a drop of water after days of dehydration. Most likely, I think this novel probably originated as an interesting idea/literary theory, the weight of which it couldn't carry in narrative form. I would have rather read a collection of essays on the author's thoughts about the books he cites and the role of the marriage plot in literature and how its relevance has changed today. As is, this just really didn't do it for me.

s
singasong70
Sep 27, 2017

Wordy.Liked it over all, re: spiritual quest however, character flirts with Christianity but does not talk about sin, forgiveness thereof; woman in Greece - about emotion in worship, not forgiveness; seeker(s) of gifts (both) not the giver which a lot of us want of course. Birth control mentioned once in the book, plenty of sex without it, consequences thereof that is.

brianreynolds Feb 21, 2017

I'll admit there were times when a little less psychology/theology/ philosophy might have improved the feast for me, but a feast it was. The three characters of the triangular romance might have lacked the heroic mantles of comic book lovers, but they were real enough, detailed enough, life-like enough that I was absorbed in their dilemmas and journeys, their foibles and humanity. Eugenides' "marriage plot" was not always comfortable or predictable, but in the end it seemed true.

s
Soundreader
Feb 18, 2017

Wow. If only books matched the reviews of people who were paid to write them. Not the case with this book. I honestly have not liked any of Eugenides books but this one is dreadful. Boring, pompous, and pointless. Written for people with an English PhD with no sense of the real world around them. Dripping with superfluous language and name dropping of authors and literary works that only those who have studied literature and English extensively will understand. Characters are boring and pointless as is the plot, or lack thereof, of this book.

s
spantell
Sep 29, 2016

Only got half way through. I thought it was auto-biographical, with one character representing the author's experience as a young man. Entertaining for a while but then got dull. Character driven is fine but this is not insightful.

TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 03, 2016

Unlike Middlesex, which was very plot-centered, The Marriage Plot is almost solely character driven. If you like the three main characters—everyone else in the novel is very forgettable—you'll likely enjoy the novel. Without that connection, however, there is little else to hold onto—the plot is simple and the language fairly minimalistic. If you're a hundred pages into this novel and you hate these characters, nothing will change your mind over the next 300 pages. That's not to say that these characters are not hateable—that's part of their allure—but a reader who isn't routing for one character or another is going to find this read incredibly boring.

Add Eugenides' slightly meta fictional twist to the concept of the marriage plot and you've got a winner. No, it's not quite Middlesex, but really, did we want it to be?

d
dbrh852
Jan 13, 2016

I enjoyed Middlesex. This one, not so much. I struggled to read it through to the very end, hoping I would be rewarded with something worthy of my time. It never got better.

s
smichal
Oct 29, 2015

horrible. Can't believe that the author of The Virgin Suicides wrote this. I'm only half way thru. Not sure if I'll be able to finish it. No character is likable. They're all just miserable and boring, talking about theology, literature and philosophy 24 hours a day. Have you ever heard anybody use the words jejune and versimilitude? UGGH

s
sonoraanne
Aug 04, 2015

Didn't finish, boring

d
dusyaka
Jul 21, 2015

I like this novel and couldn't stop to read it till the end. A lot of details, interesting discussions and a lot of things to think about.

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dusyaka
Jul 21, 2015

dusyaka thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

brendotroy Dec 13, 2011

brendotroy thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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