Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot


The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides | LibraryThing

Eugenides, J. (2011). The marriage plot. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 9780374203054

Reasons for Reading : Yippee!!! Jeffrey Eugenides wrote another book. When I saw The Marriage Plot on the bestseller’s list, I added my name to the waiting list for a copy from HCPL

Summary: Starting the morning of Class of 1982’s graduation from Brown University, Madeleine Hanna faces the cold, hard reality of her breakup with Darwinist biologist Leonard Bankhead and very little promise of grad school in the near future. Her take on the marriage plot and Jane Austen’s novels hasn’t exactly wowed Yale Grad School. More immediately, she must deal with her parents. As the Hannas treat Madeleine to breakfast,  Mitchell Grammaticus, a student of Christian mysticism, who believes Madeleine is his soul mate. As Madeleine and Leonard make up and head out to a lab on Cape Cod, Mitchell takes a world tour, aiming to forget Madeleine.

What I Liked : Author Jeffrey Eugenides describes everything so well. I could see these dysfunctional characters. While I am a generation behind them, I still recognized the confusion of life beyond graduaton. Characters such as Madeleine and Mitchell were quite familiar because all three of us over-analyze practically everything.

The ending, which I will not reveal, was to my liking as well.

What I Disliked : One of my friends who read the book before I did warned me about some extra descriptive passages within the book. Going in with my eyes open, I found this book to have high cringe factor.

Also, I wished for more breaks – such as chapters. The Marriage Plot definitely is broken down into parts. However, these sections were, well, stealthy. With these Ivy League alum, much intertextuality can be found with the covers. That’s cool, especially the mention of Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline. While this techniques offers context, it also made the book with the long sections seem infinitely longer. I’m not even going to touch the semiotics within, either.

I wanted to throttle, above all other characters, Leonard and Madeleine’s sister, Alwyn. Amongst a strange and disillusioned and delusional cast, these two deserved the padded cells and straight jackets the most.

Lastly, I liked both The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex better. Eugenides’ previous novels offered, above all else, unique narrators. The former spoke in the form of a group of men reflecting upon something from their adolescence while the latter had the incomparably omniscient Cal Stephanides. The Marriage Plot had ordinary third person omniscient points of view.

Three Out of Five Pearls

Song: Talking Heads – “Once In A Lifetime” – YouTube

Setting : Providence, Rhode Island; Detroit, New York City, New Jersey; Portland, Oregan; Cape Cod, Boston, Provincetown, India, France, Ireland, Greece

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J.D. Robb’s In Death Series


Ericksen, S., & Robb, J. D. (2004). In Naked in death. Brilliance Audio on compact disc. Grand Haven, MI: Brilliance Audio. 9781593558284

Ericksen, S., & Robb, J. D. (2004). In Glory in death. In Death, #2. Grand Haven, Mich: Brilliance Audio. 9781593558314

McMurdo-Wallis, C., & Robb, J. D. (2001). In Immortal in death. Prince Frederick, MD: Recorded Books. 9781402515385

Robb, J. D., & Ericksen, S. (2006). Rapture in death. Brilliance Audio on compact disc. Grand Haven, MI: Brilliance Audio. 9781423313533

Robb, J. D., & Ericksen, S. (2001). Ceremony in death. Grand Haven, Mich: Brilliance Audio. 9781423313717

With a new car and a new CD player, I once again became  an “audiobook reader.” So, I chose to give Nora Roberts’ turn as J.D. Robb a shot.

The “In Death” series offers a bleak look at the future. The main character is Eve Dallas, a thirty-year old NYPSD (New York Police and Security Department) lieutenant in the year 2058. Before we become depressed though, I’d like to say Dallas’ world is a phoenix rising from the ashes of the Urban Wars a few decades before Naked in Death. Technology is grand and inspiring and people regularly do business “off planet.”

Lt. Eve Dallas investigates homicide on (and off) the mean streets of New York City. She’s a phoenix herself; having been found as an eight year old girl on a Dallas, Texas street with a broken arm and covered in blood.  A social worker names her “Eve Dallas.” Before this, she lived with her abusive father that she only recalls in the aforementioned nightmares.

Eve grows up in the foster care system. As an adult, Eve joins the police force in 2051. While working on a homicide case involving murdered licensed companions (legal prostitutes), Eve meets Roark, an Irish multi-millionaire, who romances her.

As anyone can see, I’ve continued with the series and I’m working on the fourth book, Rapture in Death. Having read Nora Roberts, J.D. Robb would be my preference. There’s continuity, the futuristic aspects, and a bit of grit. While I hope there are no events such as the Urban Wars, I look forward to traveling to Mars and parents receiving government paychecks for being parents.

I strongly recommend reading these in order.

Three out of Five Pearls

Word Bank: Check out the Glossary on J.D. Robb’s site.

Places: New York City, Dallas, Texas, East Washington, New Los Angeles, Ireland, Mexico, Mars, “Off planet”

For more on J.D. Robb’s “In Death” series, please check out the following sites: