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The Marriage Plot  By  cover art

The Marriage Plot

By: Jeffrey Eugenides
Narrated by: David Pittu
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Publisher's summary

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 cafés 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 unfolds like the intimate journal of our own lives.

©2011 Jeffrey Eugenides (P)2011 Macmillan Audio

Critic reviews

“The sound of silk drawn across fine-grain sandpaper best describes David Pittu's voice in THE MARRIAGE PLOT, by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jeffrey Eugenides...The talented Pittu rises to the occasion of this challenging work, rewarding the listener with a sense of satisfaction reserved for great works of literature.”—AudioFile magazine, An Earphones Award Winner

“David Pittu brilliantly narrates this audio version of Eugenides' complex novel, whether he's rattling off quotes from Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes or creating unique voices for the book's many characters. Among the standouts are his renditions of the slow and reflective Mitchell and Thurston, the star of the semiotics seminar who speaks in a falsely laconic and disinterested fashion to impress his classmates and professor… [Pittu] never runs out of voices for this large, global cast. The result is one of the best audiobooks of the year.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“No one's more adept at channeling teenage angst than Jeffrey Eugenides. Not even J. D. Salinger . . . It's in mapping Mitchell's search for some sort of belief that might fill the spiritual hole in his heart and Madeleine's search for a way to turn her passion for literature into a vocation that this novel is at its most affecting, reminding us with uncommon understanding what it is to be young and idealistic, in pursuit of true love and in love with books and ideas.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“This is a story about being young and bright and lost, a story Americans have been telling since Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Our exceptionally well-read but largely untested graduates still wonder: How should I live my life? What can I really believe in? Whom should I love? Literature has provided a wide range of answers to those questions—Lose Lady Brett! Give up on Daisy! Go with Team Edward!—but in the end, novels aren't really very good guidebooks. Instead, they're a chance to exercise our moral imagination, and this one provides an exceptionally witty and poignant workout.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post