With the new novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, the Marriage Plot, the writer has been quite patient in it and drawn closer to the material than he did with his former works, “Middlesex” in particular. The new novel is dedicated to college friends or roomies if you like and it has pain and texture that defines an experience already lived. Eugenides has always shown real talent in telling of youthful love.
The novel touches base with a former one where there the protagonist is encountering an affair that she had with a crush in teenage years, something that happens with The Marriage Plot, although in this case the novel is quite intense in the pretentiousness and patter that college intellectuals have, including courtship sweet banter, nice-boy doormat Mitchell plays in the life of Madeleine and mostly what follows after the period after graduation where the complexity of college classes and social scene one has been training their character and personality winds down and disappears and one has to take another level altogether in the outside world.
Obviously, the novel by Eugenides is also quite good, deft, modulated and sympathetic mostly on the struggle Mitchell goes through in his search of satisfying spirituality, including the mental illness of Leonard that comes forth strong much early including the following experiences of Leonard and Madeleine when they are together. The Marriage Plot is a story that is beautifully constructed, engaging and wry although for some, its characters are short of many things. This is clearly seen in the fact that the religious exploration of Mitchell and all the kind of attention given to it including the practical commitment and intellectual sweat that he puts into it as well as the genuine grounding that happens to his soul ends up being dismissed and sublimated by the need of Madeleine. The point of view the novel has vacillates across the three characters and after one time bat from Leonard, the novel seems to forget him in a brutal fashion.
Madeleine on the other hand gets the lion’s share of the novel, almost a half of The Marriage Plot, including the opening section that is the longest part mostly obviously as a result of the fascination that Eugenides has with the experience of females in his work, as much as she recedes beneath the curtain of Leonard’s desires. Madeleine has a trait that is almost reactive, including the way that she deals with her relationships from Mitchell to Leonard. In other words, she does not make any journey of self discovery or any at all while it is something the novel seems to have ignored with Madeleine going all the way to discover the calling she feels acquainted to, that of being Victorian novel feminist scholar.
The topic of The Marriage Plot might be clear and the hypothetical thematic centrality but people hardly get much on the development including the thoughts that are supposed to be on marriage. However, come as it may, it is a read worth sitting down for.