The Marriage Plot
by Jeffrey Eugenides
reviewed by Krissy Kneen
I had been waiting for another book by Jeffrey Eugenides for ten years. His first novel, the Virgin Suicides is still in my top five novels of all time. He followed it up with Middlesex (after a ten year delay) and Middlesex became a run-away Avid bestseller and staff favourite. Then the ten year wait began. Eugenides does not rush his novels and you can tell in the careful way the books are constructed. The Marriage Plot was not at all a disappointment. The three central characters all meet at university, Madelaine is a beautiful young woman, highly intelligent and the object of Mitchell's long term desire. Mitchell (my favourite of the three characters) is a religious studies major on a search for the meaning of life. Mitchell is so driven and committed to this goal that it seems that if anyone can answer the ultimate question then perhaps it will be Mitchell - unless of course his obsession with Madelaine distracts him from his higher purpose. Madelaine, however is in love with the brightest and most troubled young man Leonard.
This is a classic love triangle but there is so much more to this book than just a love story. The book subtly and cleverly deconstructs the great classic love plots whilst engaging with philosophy and psychology and concepts of religious beliefs. I loved living with these characters for the duration of the story and I was convinced that the wonderful Mitchell should marry no one but me! This is a book that keeps you guessing to the very last page and rewards you with a conclusion that the authors of the great classics would be proud of. It is devastating to know that we will have to wait another ten years for another book by Eugenides, but it is heartening to know that there is enough in this book and his others, to keep re-reading them annually until we get another great work by my favourite living author of fiction.