It's hard to follow Middlesex. Practically anything that came from Jeffrey Eugenides' pen or computer or whatever was going to pale in comparison. And indeed, this isn't as good as Middlesex. But don't mistake that for not being good. The Marriage Plot may not reach those lofty heights, but it's still a solid read.
is finishing university, having written her undergraduate thesis on
"the marriage plot" - the Victorian/Regency novels that end in marriage,
or talk about what happens after marriage. Her supervisor opines that
novel writing went to shit after divorce was introduced, because if you
can just leave, where's the drama in the story?
I think this book is trying to answer that question.
Madeleine's erstwhile boyfriend, has been given a mental health
diagnosis that means that he will probably struggle for the rest of his
life. Does she stay with him? How? What responsibilities do each of them
have to each other under the shadow of such an illness? Can you walk
away? Should you? What does it mean if you do? How do you stick it out?
Where do your responsibilities end?
While those two deal with
those questions, the book is interspersed with sections about the third
man in this triangle, Mitchell, who knew, just knew, Madeleine is the
woman he's going to marry. From the first time he met her.
Unfortunately, she's not that interested. So he takes off on a journey
of self-discovery, and some of what he discovers are not comforting
Much of this book is about immediate post-undergraduate
life, and trying to find a place in the world, and dealing with adult
issues without a safety net, and the ways in which you thought you were
going to change the world might get sidetracked. Not every quest leads
to comforting discoveries about the self. And sometimes life sucks and
might continue to suck.
The book offers no easy answers to any of
these issues, but I do enjoy that it raises them. It may not attain the
lofty heights of achievement of Middlesex, but I'm glad I read it.