lefaquin’s #CBR4 Review #13: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
I think there have been three or four reviews of The Marriage Plot so far on the CBR4 blog, which really encouraged me to read the book. I have loved other books by Eugenides, and after seeing reviews I got on a super long wait list at the library. I really enjoyed reading this book, in part because it felt so relatable in some ways. The novel follows three recent college graduates in the year or so after graduating from Brown University in the early 1980’s.
Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell are all somewhat lost in their own way, finding fellowships, applying to grad school, and traveling abroad in the same way that my friends and I did. For me, the characters drifted in and out of likeability, but I wasn’t as attached to the characters as I was to their story. Reading The Marriage Plot felt like following the lives of distant college friends – ones I didn’t like too much and wasn’t extremely close with, but I was still interested in snooping in their lives, seeing what happened to them and how they turned out. I think it’s a testament to Eugenides’ writing that I was still so engrossed in the novel and enjoyed it as much as I did while writing not-so-likeable characters. Their flaws made the novel much more interesting, and I cringed when they said horrible things to one another, made terrible decisions, or when I thought they were losing control.
The writing switches between perspectives of the three characters, and I think that was a fantastic way to flesh out the story, while still keeping the internal narratives of each person separate. I loved it when Eugenides switched between characters, so that I could see another point of view on the same event, seeing what Mitchell thought about Leonard and Madeleine, or a new take on Leonard and Mitchell’s interactions. Overall, this was a pretty great book (I’ve recommended it to three friends already), and if you’ve read and enjoyed other novels by Eugenides, you’ll definitely like this one.