There's a love triangle, in which Madeleine, a lit major, chooses between Mitchell, a soul-searching religious studies major, and Leonard, a troubled biology major. The action takes place in the early eighties (why Eugenides chose to set it then I haven't figured out yet, but I was pleased, because that made the characters my contemporaries).
All of the characters are well-read and intelligent. Plenty of books are discussed and name-dropped. Whenever I expected someone to be a cliche, or a "type", I was put in my place by Eugenides' insight and mastery of characterization. I would recommend this book to any bibliophile who enjoys a good exploration of the human heart (a love story, in other words). But don't read it if you're one of those romance buffs who expects a happily-ever-after ending. This book is much more nuanced than that, and takes into consideration that just because people love one another, it doesn't necessarily mean they should spend their lives together.
This book, for the most part, tells a smaller-scale story than "Middlesex", except for a section where Mitchell, in his trip to India, contemplates some larger questions and comes to know himself better. I found Mitchell Grammaticus to be one of the most engaging characters I've read about this year.
This is a book that I may come back to one day, and I don't say that lightly.
In the Regency and Victorian periods, English novels usually had a "marriage plot", in which the heroine dealt with choosing between marrying one of two men, each having different personality characteristics. This book is an update and a deconstruction that type of plot.