It always gives me a thrill to see a new book by a favourite author, especially one who takes his sweet time about producing them, so I was delighted to spot this on the shelves of Eason’s last week. I adored Eugenides’ Middlesex, a truly outstanding, original book; I still haven’t read his The Virgin Suicides, mainly because I didn’t think much of the film adaptation (which is not a very fair reason to discount the source material. It’ll be next on my list.)
Anyway, The Marriage Plot doesn’t quite reach the heights of his last novel, but it’s still a clever and satisfying read. The story centres on Madeleine, 22 and about to graduate from college, and the men in her life – manic-depressive Leonard and good guy Mitchell. Madeleine is a lover of the Victorian novel, and the romantic plot of her own life mirrors the typical love triangles of Eliot, Austen, the Brontes. The point of view jumps around between these three characters, but no matter whose voice he’s using, Eugenides manages to draw you in to the particular Zeitgeist of America in the early 1980s – a country on the brink.
Eugenides’ writing style is similar to that of Jonathan Franzen, whose last novel I really enjoyed; the books are big, engrossing, and filled with the sort of people you can thoroughly believe in, even if they’re not always completely likable. Recommended.