Amy Reads Books

The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot - Jeffrey Eugenides 3.5 StarsI knew relatively little about Eugenides before I read this book; the only thing I really knew was that his novel inspired The Virgin Suicides photos from which are endlessly reblogged on Tumblr. However, it was the review of this which is quoted on the front that really attracted me to this novel-The Times declares it to be 'One Day with George Eliot thrown in'. That isn't quite true, but the novel is interesting all the same.The novel opens on graduation day for Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell; but the novel flicks back in time frequently to give us the background on these characters. Essentially, Madeleine is an English Literature student from a middle-class family where her Dad works as the head of a small university. Leonard is a Biology & Philosophy student fro a broken home who suffers from manic depression, and who Madeleine falls hopelessly for. Finally is Mitchell, a Religious Studies student who himself is hopelessly in love with Madeline; while she views him most certainly as just a friend.The Marriage Plot is a novel that hangs in part on the three characters, which is both a good thing and a bad. It's a good thing as it means that all three characters are well drawn in a balanced light-none are presented as being perfect; or as being inherently bad. However, it's a bad thing is if you dislike a character-which certainly happened with me and Leonard. His behaviour towards Madeleine drove me a mental, even if Eugenides does give him some form of get our clause, I had a bad feeling about their relationship from the beginning-which made it difficult to care about some of the strife they go through. I found the other two far easier to like, Madeline's desire to go and curl up with books with a plot after having her Semiotics seminars really endeared me to her and I found Mitchell to be a fairly affable character-especially in terms of his work to reconcile his growing religious feelings with an intellectual society which increasingly looks down on religion.I can totally see why this work would be off-putting for people who aren't heavily into literature; in addition to name-dropping the various Victorian authors that Madeleine adores, we are thrown headfirst into the rather postmodern school of semiotics; the pages that described this largely went over my head. However, Eugendies seems to be pointing out the flaws and the slightly ridiculous aspects of theories that suddenly become 'trendy' that people unblinkingly accept. This idea is also seen in descriptions of protesting and in Claire-Larry's girlfriend-simply spurting feminist theory that someone else has written, as opposed to considering them herself. It is interesting to consider how Madeline's fascination with marriage plots in Victorian novels with the modern world she's living in; whereby if a woman makes a mistake in marrying the wrong suitor nowadays they can get a divorce without being totally ostracised.Despite it's niche satire and my dislike of Leonard, I did enjoy The Marriage Plot quite a lot, mostly for Mitchell and his adventures. Also, the ending is seriously beautiful and made me smile like a crazy person. I think I probably go back and read more Eugenides in the future.