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Romance and Melancholy   2 comments

I’ve never read Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides (although I did see the movie) and I had
difficulty putting down his second book, Middlesex. I was curious about The Marriage Plot, and
my interest paid off.

Unrequited love, mental illness and faith are formidable as individual themes let alone combining
them. In Eugenides’s hands they’re like Legos that fit together perfectly, and colorfully. He’s an
exceptional storyteller. His characters and their conditions in The Marriage Plot emerge through
humor, angst and a variation of the coming-of-age-storyline. Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell are
compelling characters. They got in my head, if not my heart. Their individual histories and the many
ways the trio intersect are amusing and heartbreaking in only a way life during, and immediately,
after college can be: full of promise and fear – and lots of partying.

Although Eugenides’s syntax is methodical, the evolution of the story is fun and the main personalities
evoke emotion. Madeleine is irresolute, Leonard is damaged and Mitchell is forlorn; in 406 pages
Eugenides provides ample explanation for each character’s strengths and flaws. The title makes
perfect sense from romantic and academic persepctives (Madeleine is, afterall, an English major).

I found something oddly familiar about The Marriage Plot, and it finally hit me that I had already
read two of the chapters in The New Yorker where they appeared as stand-alone short stories.
Those now make much more sense so the small sharp-edged pieces all fit together for me.

Four Bookmarks

406 pages
Farrar, Strauss & Giroux 2011

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Posted October 23, 2011 by bluepagespecial in Books

2 responses to “Romance and Melancholy

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  1. I am unfamiliar with Eugenides’s work… I will have to check him out. I am curious, is his books still in print? If so, I will head over to Amazon…

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