Sunday, 22 January 2012

Cannonball Read #05: The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

I loved Middlesex. It offered a mix of humour and drama that appealed to me and kept me turning the pages. So Eugenides' new book was eagerly anticipated.

Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell are the three corners of a love triangle that's spiced up by mental illness, religious self-discovery and existential agony. We follow these characters through their journey to find happiness. It's a painful, difficult journey, both for the characters and for the reader.

Eugenides' descriptions of places and people leaves little to be desired. Apart from Madeleine, whom I found a bit flat (but maybe that was the whole point?), everything and everyone else was vivid. But where he truly excels is in his descriptions of Leonard's mental illness. He conveys the torment Leonard goes through and the consequences on the people who love him so wonderfully that my heart was breaking for him at the same time as I despised him for the pain he inflicted on others.

So, lots of drama, but what about humour? Not so much of it in this book. It was a long book, with certain passages feeling out of context, like this book was supposed to be a love story but suddenly it was about something else entirely. I suppose that was my only issue with The Marriage Plot: I had trouble figuring out what the book was about, especially with the parts about Mitchell's journey. Especially after the abrupt ending.

Was it a good book? Yes. Would I recommend it to a friend? Probably not. I would loan them Middlesex instead.

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