The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Jeffrey Eugenides was always one of those writers I never thought I would read. I'd seen Middlesex around, and that was about the only book of his that I was aware of. First of all, it's cover didn't appeal to me AT ALL, and second of all, the title made me think that it was going to be some navel-gazing novel about human sexuality and all that nonsense. I think what this probably tells you about me is that I was an opinionated adolescent and it doesn't tell you jack about Eugenides except that maybe he needs to fire the person who does his covers.
I bought The Marriage Plot for two reasons. I'd just watched Sanne of Booksandquills fame review The Virgin Suicides and I had pretty much decided that I wanted to read that book. Then, I had a customer come into the bookshop where I work and request The Marriage Plot for his book club. We didn't have it, so as a consequence, I learned that it was available to order.
The Times called TMP 'One Day with George Eliot thrown in', but I think that I would classify it more as One Day with The Gilmore Girls in which one character acts out part of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and another One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. In other words, it's a pretty post modern book. Eugenides appears to have read everything. Without intertextual references, there would probably be very little meaning in the book, and that is the whole point. The books spits in the face of literary criticism for it's own sake and says, why can't we just find meaning in reading where we need to?
It also appears to be a description of my life. Do you remember when I got freaked out because the movie Post Grad appeared to have plagiarised from my life (unfortunately sans sexy foreign neighbour)? Well. This was like that only it was like Eugenides had been inside my head.
The Marriage Plot is well written and delivers its message without becoming preachy.
I'm now in a complicated situation where I can't decide whether I liked Mitchell or Leonard more. I know that I liked Madeleine Hanna. I can relate to her. She's a hopeless romantic who has read one too many books, has average self esteem and spends a lot of time in her own head. But Mitchell and Leonard, to me were both as unlikeable as each other. On the one hand, I could see myself being attracted to Leonard as the big, hipster type who is smart without trying, but on the other Mitchell's selflessness when it comes to love is totally endearing. What do you think? You'll just have to read the book and tell me!