maandag 21 juli 2014

Jeffrey Eugenides: The Marriage Plot


The Marriage Plots is Jeffrey Eugenides’ third novel and the second one I read (I read The Virgin Suicides about a year ago).
I ordered my copy from The Book Depository. It has 406 pages.

“Brown University, 1982. Madeline Hanna, dutiful English student and incurable romantic is writing her thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot - authors of the great marriage plots. As Madeleine studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different men, intervenes.
Leonard Bankhead, brilliant scientist and charismatic loner, attracts Madeleine with an intensity that she seems powerless to resist. Meanwhile, her old friend Mitchell Grammaticus, a theology student searching for some kind of truth in life, is certain of at least one thing - that he and Madeleine are destined to be together.
But as all three leave college, they will have to figure out how they want their own marriage plot to end.”

This was a very hard review to write. As I’m not a language student, a writer or professional reviewer it’s difficult to write a review about a novel you’re supposed to love, but find out you don’t love as much as you’d like. Jeffrey Eugenides is one of those writers you have to read and subsequently love. But I can’t say I loved it. I did enjoy it because of the writing and the prose… the prose is just magnificent! It’s rich and still readable, beautiful, glorious and elegant.

Eugenides is able to make me understand characters I really dislike. The characters have merits but they also have their flaws and the writer isn’t shy in exposing those. Madeline is just flat and bland and I hated her at moments. But as the novel progresses, you realize that Eugenides did this to help us remember that we all are flawed.
It’s ironic that Madeline is studying and writing about The Marriage Plots but she doesn’t see what’s happening around her, she doesn’t understand her own life, her relationships and her choices, she doesn’t understand herself.

This novel teaches us that even though we think we know everything there is to know about someone, the other person will always remain a mystery.
But it is a very slow novel.

Happy reading.

Lazy Sunday afternoon