January 13, 2012
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In true form, Jeffrey Eugenides once again delivers an engaging, thought provoking novel, The Marriage Plot (A). Jane Austen, Emily Bronte and George Elliot are famous authors of English novels. Madeline, a senior at Brown University, has decided to focus her thesis on the approach to love taken in these books where always the purpose of love and romance is marriage. One of the sources that Madeline uses for her research is called A Lover’s Discourse that dissects words of love. This becomes her bible, not just for her paper, but for her romantic self.
Mitchell, a classmate at Brown, is in love with Madeline. Madeline doesn’t consider him romantically but flirts enough to encourage Mitchell and sustain his belief that he can win her over. Mitchell’s major is religious studies and after graduation he travels to India in search of a calling. Even while traveling, he cannot erase his feelings for Madeline.
Meantime, Leonard, a science major, has captured Madeline’s heart. He is the man she believes she loves, wants and needs. Leonard is a manic depressive and has suffered silently with this disease his entire life. Once involved with Madeline, he can no longer hide it and in fact suffers a severe mental breakdown. Madeline travels with the ailing Leonard to Cape Cod where he has been given the opportunity to work at Pilgrim Lake Labs. Like the tides outside her window, life with Leonard ebbs and flows. On one of his high moments, he and Madeline marry.
Eugenides weaves the stories of these characters together creating a unique love story. I enjoyed reading The Marriage Plot. The characters and the story are well developed and flow seamlessly. My only criticism is that at times it became overly heavy and read like a textbook. Eugenides incorporates book titles, quotes and mini lectures into his story. I don’t believe that this was necessary. His novel gave him the opportunity to exercise his brain and a vehicle to impress the reader with his vast knowledge. I just wanted to read the story without all the baggage. Even so, I consider myself a fan. I hope that you consider The Marriage Plot and discover for yourself and exceptional, Pulitzer Prize winning author.