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The Marriage Plot; A Novel

The Marriage Plot; A Novel

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3.55

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A New York Times Notable Book of 2011A Publisher's Weekly Top 10 Book of 2011 A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Best Fiction of 2011 Title One of Library Journal's Best Books of 2011A Salon Best Fiction of 2011 titleOne of The Telegraph’s Best Fiction Books of the Year 2011 It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés 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.
A New York Times Notable Book of 2011A Publisher's Weekly Top 10 Book of 2011 A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Best Fiction of 2011 Title One of Library Journal's Best Books of 2011A Salon Best Fiction of 2011 titleOne of The Telegraph’s Best Fiction Books of the Year 2011 It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés 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.

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Publish date: Oct 11, 2011
Added to Scribd: Aug 22, 2012
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux18 West 18th Street, New York 10011Copyright © 2011 by Jeffrey Eugenides All rights reservedPrinted in the United States of AmericaFirst edition, 2011Excerpts from
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originally appeared,in slightly different form, in
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Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to reprint lyrics from “Once in a Lifetime,” by David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Jerry Jarrison, Tina Weymouth, and Brian Eno. Copyright ©1981 Index Music, Inc., Bleu-Disque Music Co., and E.G. Music Ltd. All rights on behalf of Index Music, Inc., Bleu-Disque Co., Inc., administered by WB Music Corp. All rights re- served. Used by permission. Warner Brothers Publications, U.S. Inc., Miami, Florida 33014.Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataEugenides, Jeffrey.The marriage plot / Jeffrey Eugenides. — 1st ed.p. cmISBN 978-0-374-20305-4 (hardcover : alk. paper) 1. Triangles(Interpersonal relations)—Fiction. 2. Literature—Appreciation—Fiction.3. Self-actualization—Fiction. I. Title.PS3555.U4M37 2011813'.54—dc232011022099Designed by Jonathan D. Lippincott  www.fsgbooks.com 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2The author would like to thank the following individuals for their assistance in providing and verifying factual material used in
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: Dr. Richard A. Friedman, director of psychopharmacology at the Payne Whitney Manhattan psychiatric clinic and professor of clinical psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College; Professor David Botstein, direc-tor of the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University; andGeorgia Eugenides, local
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expert. In addition, the author would like to cite the following article, from which he drew information on yeast genetics: “The Mother-Daughter  Mating Type Switching Asymmetry of Budding Yeast Is Not Conferred by the Segregation of Parental HO Gene DNA Strands,” by Amar J. S. Klar.
 
 A Madman in Love 

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stacey2112 reviewed this
Rated 2/5
...MAYBE 2.5. There is some good writing in there, but it wasn't enough to save this book for me. I thought the plot concept was too weak to carry this much wordage, all tangents & book-name dropping. I found the characters one-dimensional and immature, and many of the relationships between characters unrealistic. not impressed.
kristysp reviewed this
Rated 5/5
Oh, Mr. Eugenides, you are good. Just as I did his other two novels, I LOVED this book. It's not perfect, but it is such a pleasure to read. Very entertaining and involved. Just the right amount of literary snark and intellectualism. He's excellent. I can't wait for his next book.
anderlawlor reviewed this
Rated 1/5
First off, I really hated MIDDLESEX (horrifyingly binary ideas about gender, location of intersex bodies' origin in incest, etc), so I was predisposed to dislike THE MARRIAGE PLOT.

I read it anyway because I love Barthes' A LOVER'S DISCOURSE and because the novel sounded like it might be critical in an interesting way of the elite liberal arts college industrial complex, or at least a fun romp through a cultural moment. But no.

Again I found Eugenides basic worldview repellant, uninteresting, and badly observed. I don't trust his depiction of straight women and am bored by his depiction of straight men. The story is about a heterosexual love triangle and the woman operates pretty exclusively as an object to bring the men together (I'm thinking of Sedgwick's BETWEEN MEN here). On a very basic level, this novel doesn't pass the Bechdel test. And there's weird class stuff, all this unexamined privilege. I just really dislike and distrust Eugenides's authorial worldview and I also didn't think it was particularly well-written or plotted. I mean, the writing was *fine* but really not special to me.
untitled841 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Smashing characters. Developed beautifully within the story. Created a believable and highly desired ending!
melissarochelle_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Read from August 04 to 19, 2011There are some authors everyone expects amaze-balls from. Eugenides is one of those. And of course, there are overrated writers that people praise because they think it's cool..Eugenides is not one of those (but Franzen is.) While I don't think this is anything like Middlesex, it's definitely worth reading.I didn't LOVE this one, but I liked it. I never wanted to stop reading it, I just didn't read it as quickly as a book that I'm LOVING, you know? Each character is completely developed and I loved Leonard, Mitchell, and Madeline.... They're all flawed, but like real people, they've got good qualities, too.
erickibler reviewed this
Rated 4/5
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.

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.
eidzior_1 reviewed this
Rated 4/5
I was thoroughly enjoying the story until Eugenides incorrectly uses the title "Seeds of Temptation" for a Thomas Merton book that Mitchel brings along only to discover that there is also a factual error of the same sort in the printed version of the book. Such a mistake seems unprofessional on the part of both the publisher and the writer.

That being said, it's been something like 7 years since Middlesex was in paperback and since I read it so I don't exactly remember what I loved so much about it. This was an enjoyable and easy book and of course saddens me so much being a happily married woman (a Stage 2?). I found myself remembering my own days of Undergrad and what it was like to be newly in love with my now husband.

A good read especially if you were an English Major in College.
akmargie reviewed this
Rated 4/5
Okay this was a serious, straight up adult literary book and I didn't hate it! The writing is of course superb although at times gets weighted down with a few too many intellectual fancy-pants references. The story, what there was, was compacted, complex and oddly satisfying. The characters too were complex and messed up and crazy and absurd and quite honestly lovely. The time period, early 80's was always well done. Good narrator too. I enjoyed it for sure.
tracey8824_1 reviewed this
Rated 3/5
Wow...This book took longer to read than most I've read lately. Not sure why. I enjoyed The Marriage Plot for a variety of reasons. At first, I enjoyed reading about the city in which I was born and grew up (Providence) and tried to imagine the confusing East Side streets (my childhood church is on Congdon St). After awhile, I really started to care about Madeline, Leonard, and Mitchell even though in real life I'd probably not like them very much.

The Marriage Plot is the story of these 3 people at the end of their college careers at Brown University. What will they do when they grow up? Who will they be? In relationships, is love enough or is more needed? I don't think any of these questions were answered and that's ok. It was enjoyable to go along on their journeys.
matamgirl reviewed this
Rated 2/5
This is one of those books that I had fairly high expectations of because reviewers raved about it. It started off okay but then our three main protagonists became insufferable. Mitchell less so than the other two but still. Madeleine turned from a strong female character to a whining complainer. If this is a well-written woman then I would hate to see a poorly written one. Nothing she seemed to do mattered. It was all about how the men reacted to her. She wasn't much of a character in her own right. But then again I guess turning women into objects is something that Eugenides did in "The Virgin Suicides" so I shouldn't be surprised.

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