Burdens. The three protagonists of Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel, The Marriage Plot, carry heavy burdens. They came to Brown from different Oregon, Detroit and New Jersey, and as they graduate in 1982, they are uncertain what comes next. Madeline Hanna is considering post-graduate work in literature, but Yale did not accept her. Leonard Bankhead met Madeline in a Semiotics class that Eugenides describes in rich detail. Leonard has bipolar disorder, and his manic and depressive episodes dominate the book. The third protagonist, Mitchell Grammaticus, is a religious studies major who heads to India after graduation. The three characters are in a love triangle that would have developed one way in Jane Austen’s world, and develops in another way under Eugenides. The fine writing here is lively and descriptive, and the burdens carried are made real through the ways in which Eugenides brings the characters to life. These are not necessarily appealing characters, but they are real. The love relationships mirror the reality of our contemporary society.
Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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