“The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides

On the one hand, you have authors like Jodi Picoult, who, despite being a great author, kind of gets boring and predictable simply after two books. On the other hand, you have authors like Jeffrey Eugenides, who on your second book, offer you something totally different and new and the only similarity you can find between that and your first encounter is how good and refreshing both books are.

One other remarkable trait distinguishable in Jeffrey Eugenides’ books is that the reader can really feel the author ‘did his homework’. Let him talk about yeast-based research in biology, or the Victorian authors such as Austen, you find yourself immersed in his descriptions and story-telling you simply wonder how much knowledge and sensitivity a person can take in and, most importantly, give it back to his readers.

‘The Marriage Plot’ is an attempt to cheat the Victorian novels of 19th Century England, where the beloved Austen and Gaskell end up satisfying their readers with the perfect marriage plot. The presence of the perfect girl – not really perfect when she is described to the readers, but we all know deep inside that even her faults are what makes her perfect,- her more than one suitors, her not-so-supportive family… everything is there to make a perfect Victorian novel ending with the marriage – of the perfect girl and of course, the second, not the first, suitor. Yet Eugenides doesn’t want to go that easy with his novel. He rather focuses on each of the characters. Madeleine (what a Victorian name too!), Leonard and Mitchell. It’s about what each of these characters go through – her odeal in her studies and future career, alongside someone she loves very much but can’t reach and most importantly can’t cure, his manic-depression accompanied with his -literally- ups and downs, and his quest for faith, which in the end, is a quest for ultimate love. And so when Eugenides doesn’t deliver us the adequate ending, it doesn’t matter, because he has given us more than just a good ending, he has given us the tools to understand, love and hate the characters. And isn’t this, shouldn’t this, be the perfect ending?


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