Archive for April 21st, 2012

The Marriage Plot

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

By Jeffrey Eugenides

The Short Take:

This book threw so many high-minded concepts about literature and philosophy at me, I began to think I simply wasn’t smart enough to read it. Instead, I decided to let all the talk about semiotics, Barthes, Derrida, tropes, and the like to just flow over me and focus on the love triangle that formed the heart of the story. Turned out that worked just fine. Plus,my natural curiosity led me to Google a lot of those unknowns, so now I am ever-so-slightly more educated. That’s good, too.


Wow! There was an awful lot of  discussion about literary theories early on in this book. It really bogged down what was actually an interesting love triangle, with two young men and one woman trying to reconcile the image their hearts held of their respective loved ones with the less-desirable reality. Maybe serious literary critics found this enlightening, but to me it was simply a distraction (yes, I am shallow).

All this talking also tended to make the characters feel far too cerebral and not very — well — human. All this does not mean i didn’t like the book, it just wasn’t the absolute wonder Eugenides’ Middlesex was.

I did like how the author finally broke from the heroine’s point of view and started advancing the plot through the eyes on the man she loved and then the man who loved her. And, though others might be disappointed in the ending, I found it very satisfying.

By the way, that wedding ring on the cover is a mobius strip. Interesting.

A Little Plot:

Three Brown University students are close to graduation. English major Madeleine has no idea what to do with her future and is smarting from her recent break-up with the charismatic and brilliant Leonard. Leonard plans to pursue an advanced science degree but is worried about his financial situation and has a secret problem, too. Meanwhile, Madeleine’s long-time friend, Mitchell (who would like to be much more), is contemplating furthering his study of religion and philosophy.

Since the book jumps back and forth in time, it’s hard to say more without giving away too much.

I couldn’t easily find an author/book website, but if you want to more about Eugenides or this book, you can go to an interesting article by clicking here.


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