The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
I was fully expecting to love this book. I fell in love with Eugenides' writing when I read Middlesex... and again when I read The Virgin Suicides. In the past, I have fallen into his writing. It envelopes you, bringing you into the dark, scary and fascinating world that Eugenides creates.
So I was surprised when I wasn't there for The Marriage Plot. At all. I wanted to love it so badly. And for awhile, I convinced myself "This is the author of Middlesex... of course I love it" And I was a lying liar who lies about lying. While the writing wasn't bad and the story wasn't necessarily hollow, it just did not bring it the way Eugenides' writing usually does. Or, at least, it didn't for me. I think it came down to the fact that I had come to expect a dark undertone to his stories... and The Marriage Plot just didn't have that. Or, if it did... it didn't feel like the Jeffrey Eugenides Brand of Darkosity™.
In the end, I don't feel like I wasted my time reading it, but I can think of about 30 other books I would've preferred to have read in its stead. Oh well... they can't all be winners, Jeffrey.
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? It’s the early 1980s. In American colleges, 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 studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes---the charismatic and intense Leonard Bankhead, and her old friend the mystically inclined Mitchell Grammaticus. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned. Jeffrey Eugenides creates a new kind of contemporary love story in "his most powerful novel yet" (Newsweek).