Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

I love to read. I have a whole library of books in my spare bedroom.  I have given away more books in my life than my house could hold  (in my purging moments, which happen once every 10 years or so ).  I have worked in a public library, I have been an elementary school librarian, I am currently on the library board of directors in my little town.  I  keep up with Newberry Award winners, but not Pulitzer Prize winners.
I did not know until this very moment  (when I uploaded the book cover) that Jeffrey Eugenides won the Pulitzer Prize.  (he won for Middlesex, which I have yet to read. )

Now I feel a bit bad about my comment on GoodReads.  I  said...that this book was a bit intellectually elitist. 
Pretentious if you will.  And a bit depressing.
But you know what?  I liked this book.  
I loved hearing all the academia jargon.  I loved hearing the names of books by authors long dead, who I'll never read.   (is it who or whom? maybe that's why I love hearing about the academic world....cuz I missed the boat in the grammar department). 
I wanted to find out if the characters ever pulled their heads out of ---well you know the end of that phrase, but I did sometimes want to shake them and set them straight.  It kept me reading  (or listening, as I did an audio book) to the very end.
The characters intrigued me.

I wanted to find out what happened to them....and... I would like a continuation of this story in about  10years to see what became of them.   (ya hear that Eugenides?  Actually at the end of the audio book there was an author interview and she asked him if he had considered a continuation...not necessarily a sequel, but like John Updike did with Rabbit, and he said, this is the only book he has written where he had given thought to that.)

The reviews on Goodreads from readers was mixed, so this is one you are just going to have to read for yourself to discover if it is  a good book or not.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:
It's the early 1980s the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafes on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.

As Madeleine tries to understand why it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead, charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old friend Mitchell Grammaticus who"s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange, resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can't escape the secret responsible for Leonard's seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the Novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives


bermudaonion said...

My book club was supposed to read this last month but two members read it early and recommended we skip it. Last week, at BEA, a lot of people were raving about it. I bought a copy for book club and hope to read it one day.

sadie607 said...

Middlesex is a brilliant book. Read it ASAP :~)

Kate said...

Actually sounds like a fun read...but, since I am mired in the Italian Renaissance, it would! :-)

user voted Top Alaskan Brown Bear Hunts coastal said...

The title of the book is used in several ways during the course of this astonishingly good novel. The author's success, winning the Pulitzer Prize, is deserved.

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