I absolutely adored both the Virgin Suicide and Middlesex, and was excited to see that Eugenides had published anew. However, The Marriage Plot is bad in so many ways that I'm shocked. It is simultaneously pretentious and vapid (name-dropping and surface-level discussions of literary theory and spiritual philosophies), and the story is terribly juvenile. It is a story of pedestrian heartbreak, like most failed college relationships, and the characters are so totally plausible that they are boring, generic. I do not care about these people, or their feelings for one another, or their fates. I am also extremely put off by the exclusivity of the hardly-fictionalized, entirely-privileged world of Brown University. This feels like a poorly-executed, love-lorn, man-child's autobiography of Young Love's Dull Persistence.
The narrator did the best he could with the material at hand, but no matter how great an actor/reader you are, it's nearly impossible to make some of this writing come off as natural, or talented. For instance, Eugenides actually uses "shot his load" and "curd of evidence," in all seriousness, in the same sentence, to describe a college boy's frustrated masturbatory experiences. A lot of this novel is just plain graceless.
I'm listening to: Remaking the Way We Make Things: Cradle to Cradle, by W. McDonough & M. Braungart
I thoroughly enjoyed the story but once was enough. The main characters experiences as a young female english student were enlightening. I could see myself reviewing to grab a few intriguing mentions of books I'd never read. I have no reason to revisit the story.
The main characters parents created many memorable moments that were strangely familiar and made me laugh aloud in the car while listening a long ride to New Hampshire.
The narration good but a bit slow for my taste. In fact, the narrator's energy improved in the 3-4 chapter. I don't know if that was intentionally reflecting the mood of the story, or if he connected with the characters later in the story.
Living and learning from the literary elite.
I suppose I'll give Middlesex a lesson now that I've had a taste of Jeffrey Eugenides.
Tell us about yourself! I am a former high school history teacher and now, a semi-retired physician assistant.
The plot was boring, the characters moody, self-indulged, and tedious. They labored from one place to another without any real purpose. I persisted to listen to the entire story hoping that the end would reward my persistence, but I ended up unfulfilled. Also, I wanted to give Eugenides the benefit of the doubt because of his last, great novel,
Pittu did a great job of differentiating voices, and does a particularly fine job with the women.
It does not need a follow-up book because the characters are one-dimensional and not likable or interesting. The Plot was too long as it stands.
(also posted on Amazon.com)
I intended to love this book, having waited for it since Middlesex. I am disappointed. I felt like I was reading Franzen's Corrections, which was okay, but I didn't need to read it again; nor did I finish Freedom by Franzen for the same reason. I am disappointed because I had put great stock in JE, and I was sure this next book, so long in coming would be a masterpiece.
What has happened to popular literature? Why is it sufficient to trot out the lives of characters, their intersections and their problems, without the framework of plot -- there is no "desire" here. There is no conflict, and there is no passion.
I am always glad to learn new things. So after the MP I know some little something about yeast cells. I know a little more about manic/depression and I know some things about India which I might not have come to otherwise know.
The parents in this story were cut from the same dough as many others. In this book, and those like it, 20somethings from the 1980s (who would be 50 somethings now) are vapid but brilliant, healthy but unable to follow their own common sense, and they aren't even having a great time with sex. Sex is so tortuous in this book, that it frequently reads like the Indian excrement scene, embarrassing and tragic.
I suppose, as one reviewer put it, if I were of that class, I could identify with it better. I am much older than those characters were in this telling, but I don't lack my own memories from my 20s. We had **fun**. We suffered deeply, we played hard, we felt things, we regretted, we rejoiced. These people don't even get a kick from their privileged education and the exposure to the subjects they chose to study.
Poor Mitchell couldn't measure up to his own standards for being "good." Leo's situation is hopeless. I've known some M/Ds in my life. They function most of the time, they hold jobs and have families, go to school and prevail much of the time -- especially those with two shrinks and constant medication monitoring. This boy, Leonard, was hung out to dry. Maddy took on his illness and became a depressive too. There was nothing to root for in any of them.
So, I am disappointed on many levels. I expected more from the writer of Middlesex. I expected more from the parade of characters, not all of whom were cardboard cut-outs, and I expected some kind of mystery or journey or decision to be made by the hero -- but frankly, I am not sure who the hero/protagonist was.
The point of view changes were very effective, because not one of those characters could have supported the whole book. I was looking for a transition, a convergence of the three into one (metaphorically), but none came.
Maddy gets out of her situation with Leonard. Mitchell must accept her passive rejection and Leo is out running in the woods. While this may represent reality, who gives a s**t?
I'm a big fan of Jeffrey Eugenides, so I was delighted to see The Marriage Plot available on Audible, and couldn't wait to download it. Unfortunately, and much to my sad surprise, I never really made a real connection with any of the main characters. I found most of the characters distinctly unpleasant, so it became more and more difficult to understand why they all were falling in love with each other, or even why any of them were friends. All of the characters' attitudes of "better than" -- culturally, intellectually, romantically, spiritually -- were too thick for me to feel anything like compassion for them. They weren't the three dimensional, complicated characters I'm used to meeting in Eugenides books.
Expectant. Youthful. Attraction.
The description of the the alums lining up on graduation day reminded me of my daughter's graduation from a similar school. One old alum is described in Madeline's mind as a 'bog person" and it made me laugh out loud. Since I attended college during this exact time period, the book felt very nostalgic. I think he captured the era, the late 70's early 80's perfectly.
I adore David Pittu. I avoided reading this book due to the mediocre reviews it received. What a shame! Yet, I loved David Pittu's reading of the Goldfinch SO MUCH, I decided to try this one just because I enjoy him so much. He reads Northeastern charachters so well and I enjoy his interpretation of women more than so many other male readers. I love Mitchell's voice and Madeline's mother.
"What if Mr.Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett really weren't meant for each other after all..."
I loved this book. I loved it more than Middlesex. I think many of the tepid reviews are a result of intellectual jealousy and bias. I found this book to be incredibly thought provoking and the author's ability to convey the inner turmoil and intellectual struggles of young, newly graduated twenty somethings was moving and something I found myself remembering about my own post graduate experience. I am an amateur Victorianist myself and great lover of Jane Austen, Eliot and Trollope. This novel is perfectly constructed as a 'marriage plot" novel. It reminded me at times of Middlemarch. The twist comes at the end and is quite real and very human. I also loved the refreshing exploration of spirituality the character Mitchell indulges in. It was not gratuitous in the least. I really did enjoy this book and listened to it in two sittings.
One of my all time favorite books is Middlesex and I love Virgin suicides, so I could hardly wait to read Marriage Plot. Was very disappointed. Eugenides rambled on about so many things and none of the characters were very appealing.
A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!
It's book was such a disappointment. I stuck with it all the way through, thinking that surely, the author of "Middlesex" would pull through with a compelling and fascinating tale. Not so. The Marriage Plot is overwritten, and goes into far too much detail on stories that don't advance the plot. Eugenides did not create characters that you care about. When the book is finished you wish you could get those hours of your life back.
The characters in TMP are very flawed, but often endearing. Most important is how well written the book is, the time of the book was in the early 80's, and the author did a great job of portraying college students in the 80's.
Making the world better one review at a time.
As a rule I am drawn to characters with mental illnesses, but Leonard was just depressing. He was a one dimensional pretentious snob. It seemed like Eugenides googled "manic depression" then wrote a character based on everything he read about mania and depression. Even Leonard's certainty that he was smarter than his doctors and his attempt to take himself off his meds seemed cliche. I think the only thing in this book that was worse than Leonard's character was Maddy, who for some unknown reason fell in love with him even though he wasn't all that nice to her. I was actually pretty offended by the character of Maddy, who hardly seemed like a modern, educated woman. Rather, she seemed like the kind of woman who just goes to school to get the MRS degree. Mitchell, who was the only marginally likeable character in the novel, could have done much better.
I'm not even sure what genre this book was. Lady Gaga probably said it best....bad romance.
I would probably go see it in the hope that the movie would actually be better than the book and that this depressing story could somehow be redeemed.