The opening scene sets the pace and mood of this novel. Madeleine wakes up with a hangover, wishing she could forget the previous night and undo the happenings of the last months: she has broken up with her boyfriend Leonard and is no longer on speaking terms with her best friend Mitchell—but it is her graduation day and her parents are due to arrive any moment now.
By the end of the day, a hundred or so pages later, Madeleine has made up with Mitchell but only for about ten minutes; she has missed her graduation ceremony; and, she is back together with Leonard. Mitchell takes off on a trip to Europe, and then India, in search of ‘a religious experience,’ but basically running away from his feelings for Madeleine. Leonard, who is as brilliant as he is self-destructive, is trying to face up to the realities of his manic-depression; whilst Madeleine, as keen about saving love for herself as she is about doing the same for the English novel, is about to commit herself to a life which is not hers and several sizes too big for her age.
Interesting? Want to know what happens?
I won’t tell as that would spoil the fun. Not least since this is one of those novels that keep you turning the pages in order to find out what happens but also because its characters are both real and sympathetic.
The Marriage Plot lacks the mesmerizing enchantment of Jeffrey Eugenides’ previous two novels, namely Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, and that will disappoint some of his fans. This is surprising in part, considering that the book’s subject matter is romantic love. But, in another way, that too is part of the plot; and still, the ending is not unhappy—that much deserves to be said.