The Marriage Plot: Madeleine is a young woman studying English Lit in the mid 1980s. Having done that myself, at that time, albeit in another country, I immediately connected with this novel. She’s also a huge fan of Victorian literature. Ditto. The novel follows Madeleine and the men in her life during their undergraduate years and a year or two beyond that. It plunged me back to that time of my life like Proust’s madeleine itself. So I absolutely loved it. I also thoroughly enjoyed the plot and character development through the novel. Finally, like all Eugenides’ work, it is beautifully written.
From the publisher’s blurb:
“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 […]. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned.”
In short, it’s a love story, inspired by some of the greatest love stories and novels.
Have I made it clear that I loved this book? If you are interested in English lit, literary theory, and being a young student in the ’80s, you’ll probably love it too. If that world is all a bit alien to you, but you were once young and in love, you may well still enjoy it as an insightful and intelligent novel, beautifully written. The characters really come across as real people, each flawed but beautiful in their own ways.
And did I mention that it is at times very funny?
Note that it is a totally different novel to Eugenides’ Middlesex. I loved that too, but this is a very different novel.
Find The Marriage Plot on Amazon and at other bookstores.
You might also like: The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield.