Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

Is it just me? Why do I dislike books that so many other people love? This is going to turn into one of those deals where everyone asks me if I liked such-and-such a book, and I have to say “nooooo…. ” and then justify my response to their astonished looks. Like Atonement. Like The Corrections. And now, The Marriage Plot.

I suppose I should describe the plot: Mitchell, Madeleine, and Lawrence graduate from Brown University. Mitchell loves Madeleine, Madeleine loves Lawrence, and Lawrence has bipolar disorder. Madeleine and Lawrence set up housekeeping together over the summer while Mitchell wanders around Europe and India. Madeleine is directionless (and boring), Mitchell is lonely (also boring), and Lawrence is hospitalized. That about sums it all up.

English majors might like this book because it will make them feel good about all the useless stuff they know. I don’t frequently come across references to Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar in my day-to-day reading, and I enjoyed those aha moments. There’s also a lot of showing off about semiotics and Roland Barthes. What is the point of this in popular fiction (or, to use Barthes’ own words “readerly text”)? Many readers (most readers?) won’t get these allusions. Is it meta? Or is it ironic? Who cares? It’s just boring.

(Book 5, 2012)

10 comments:

Zuzana said...

You said it, Becky! I was disappointed by this one, as well as the Middlesex. IMO, both books fizzled out to long-winded blah way too fast, even though in both case the story has a great potential.

Kat @ NoPageLeftBehind said...

I've heard these same sentiments from my mother who basically told me not to bother reading this book. Does the hype convince people to like books better than they otherwise would?

Mama H said...

I agree with you-- and also enjoyed the Gilbert/Gubar reference whilst simultaneously feeling like it was an in-joke for former English majors. It's too bad that this book was so boring, because Eugenides is a masterful writer who has written one of the best books EVAH (Middlesex). Sigh.

gina said...

Sorry you didn't like it. It's on my hold list at the library right now and I'm looking forward to reading it. I did enjoy Middlesex and The Corrections though.

longingtobe said...

I quite enjoyed this one - although I was disappointed by the ending... I liked the fact that all the characters were flawed, deeply. And, while I agree with you that the female protagonist was boring, I did like the unfolding of Mitchell's journey through Europe and his questioning about G-d and religion.

I wouldn't say it was the best book that I've ever read but it certainly wasn't the worst book either!

Julie said...

I haven't read this one, but I just needed to say that I loathed "Atonement." It's nice to know I'm not alone there.

"Middlemarch" was the book that made me realize that life is too short to read books you hate. But other people adore (and even cherish) it. I'm stumped as to why, but there it is.

I have to keep reminding myself that the world would be a very dull place if we all agreed on everything.

Anassa kata!

Lisa said...

Lol - I love when someone has the courage to stand up and say "hated it" when everyone else is raving about it. Nothing can appeal to everyone, after all.

Anonymous said...

I was also not a fan... glad to know I'm not alone!

PattisPages said...

I didn't care for Middlesex, so I won't waste my time on this one.

Gayle said...

Not just you. I didn't like this one either, and I was a big fan of Middlesex.

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