The Marriage Plot
A New York Times Notable Book of 2011
A Publisher's Weekly Top 10 Book of 2011
A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Best Fiction of 2011 Title
One of Library Journal's Best Books of 2011
A Salon Best Fiction of 2011 title
One of The Telegraph's Best Fiction Books of the Year 2011
It's the early 1980s--the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the caf s on College Hill, 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 tries to understand why "it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France," real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead--charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy--suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old "friend" Mitchell Grammaticus--who's been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange--resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.
Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can't escape the secret responsible for Leonard's seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.
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? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the Novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.
'If you were ever young and thought you knew what you wanted, if you ever imagined that no one could feel such intensity of emotion as you, if you ever had your dreams dashed and your heart broken, then this is the book for you' The Times 'I adored The Marriage Plot ! David Nicholls' One Day with George Eliot thrown in' Erica Wagner, The Times, Books of the Year 'I gorged myself on The Marriage Plot' Geoff Dyer 'A marvellous, compulsive storyteller; he reminds us that while love may not always triumph, it follows its own wayward course to the end' Sunday Telegraph 'Where it excels is in pinpointing human emotions and in capturing the giddy flux of young love. As Mitchell says, "There were some books that reached through the noise of life to grab you by the collar and speak only of the truest things." Funny, poignant and insightful, this is one of those books' Sebastian Shakespeare 'Immensely readable, funny and heartfelt, with instantly beguiling writing that springs effortlessly back and forth over the year's events! it was indeed worth waiting for' Daily Telegraph 'Utterly engrossing ! so well depicted -- with wit, care and charm -- that Eugenides hasn't just raised his game, he's changed the fictional goalposts' Daily Mirror 'In the generosity and and nuance of his characters and paragraphs you are reminded of the Jonathan Franzen of "The Corrections"' Observer
Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit and attended Brown and Stanford Universities. His first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was published in 1993 to great acclaim and he has received numerous awards for his work. In 2003, Eugenides received the Pulitzer Prize for his novel Middlesex, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and France's Prix Medicis and has sold more than 3 million copies.