TITLE: The Marriage Plot
AUTHOR: Jeffrey Eugenides
PUBLISHER: Harper Collins
RELEASE DATE: October 11, 2011
GENRE: Adult Fiction
PAGE COUNT: 406
Do you ever find it hard to recommend a book that really impacted you? Reading is so personal and books like The Marriage Plot are a unique experience for every reader. I love how this story opened me up to deep self-reflection.
College graduates Madeleine, Leonard, and Mitchell are trapped in a love triangle. Mitchell muses over his unrequited love for Madeleine during his gap-year search for religious epiphany. Leonard’s manic depression endangers his career and relationships. Madeleine finds her romance with Leonard waxing and waning as she struggles with her definition of love. No character in The Marriage Plot is typically ‘good’. These characters are damaged, essentially human and empathetic for all their flaws.
The opening pages won me over instantly. Jeffrey Eugenides’s voice is like a trustworthy hand leading you gently through the plot. He conjures up moments that are so sensory and gorgeous they are as memorable as the characters that live inside them. The descriptions build a rich world that surprises me by resurfacing in my memory months after reading.
The moment lasted no more than three seconds … And yet now, almost four years later, he could return to this moment at will (and it was surprising how often he wanted to do this), summoning all of its sensory details, the rumbling of the dryers, the pounding music next door, the linty smell of the dank basement laundry room – page 71
While this is already a fairly hefty book, I feel like I read one twice as big. Eugenides gives us so much room to think, and your self-reflection and awareness builds a reading experience much deeper than the original text. Its representations of life, love, and mental illness are springboards for evaluating your own perceptions as you read. I don’t think any two people could have the same experience of this book.
I’m a big fan of the ending. Without giving too much away, Eugenides avoids satisfying reader expectations and delivers a conclusion that feels real. The character arcs and plot development felt authentic to me. I wish I could rave about the ending without spoiling the story!