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Review: The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot: A Novel - Jeffrey Eugenides

So many mixed feelings.


As a longtime English geek/ devourer of many "marriage plot" classics, etc, I enjoyed watching Eugenides play with those tropes. I also appreciated that he wasn't purposefully obtuse about engaging those themes. (There were several moments when I had thoughts along the lines of "oh, I see what you did there" and "this would be an easy book to write a paper on.") I felt it was a smart,interesting exploration of "the marriage plot" in contemporary culture- and (although I didn't expect to, mere pages beforehand) I thought his ending was well-played.

The big frustration for me was that I didn't actually *like* any of the main characters, with the possible exception of Mitchell. And when I say "didn't like" I don't just mean "wouldn't want to have a beer with," I mean "didn't enjoy reading about, even in a 'love to hate' or 'damn, aren't you a layered lil creature'" sense. Madeleine's sections, in particular, were largely a slog for me. Which was especially frustrating because there were minor characters (Thurston, the beekeeper, etc) that I really enjoyed. (I could have read an entire book about that lit theory class and cracked up the whole time.) But the characters who were meant to drive the narrative tended to stall it for me.

Overall: worth reading, especially for Brit lit and theology nerds, but if all I've heard of Middlesex is true, this doesn't live up to Eugenides' potential. Guess I need to read that, finally.