Fiction · Sadie J

The Marriage Plot | by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
(Picador, 2011, 416 pages)

Eugenides developed three characters in The Marriage Plot that are all complicated and each has a desire that seems unattainable. Mitchell, who has a passion for religious studies, wants Madeline to be his wife. He’s wanted her since freshman year and now with graduation looming and him being no closer to his dream girl, he flies off to Europe with the goals to forget Madeline and work under Mother Theresa. Madeline is a beautiful girl with a deep interest in Victorian writers and their development of the marriage plot. Although she knows Mitchell’s desires for her, she is obsessively attracted to the dark and twisty Leonard.  All Leonard wants is a normal life, which seems impossible with his diagnosed disorder. He knows Madeline is his only shot at his dream but his disorder continually gets in the way of their happiness. These unattainable desires will continue to consume their lives unless someone decides to let go of their dream.

I really enjoyed this read by Eugenides, or at least I think I did. There are a lot of references to literary studies, biology, and religious studies because that is what the characters are each interested in. But I’m afraid a lot of it went straight over my head. Towards the end of the book, I started to skip over the character’s rants about their interests because its wasn’t really adding anything to the story. Especially Mitchell’s parts when he’s in Europe because of how much it made the story drag. I did enjoy how developed the characters were and the story line that linked them together.

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