Jeffery Eugenides’ first novel, The Virgin Suicides was entrancing, his second, Middlesex was an epic tale that spun a century and took us all over the globe, so when buying his third I really had no idea what to expect – stopping myself from reading any of the reviews.
Set in the 80′s, The Marriage Plot focuses on three Brown University Graduates and the love triangle that surrounds them. It infuses their reading lists into the central plot so much so that all the references become part of each character and evidences their thoughts and emotions. Falling for the jumping narrative and long streams of consciousness, it is easy to see why the novel has been final-listed for the American Book Critics Prize. Eugenides himself is no stranger to literary prizes since Middlesex won him the Pulitzer for Fiction in 2003.
What I found very interesting was how Eugenides had placed himself within the story. One of the main characters, Mitchell is of Greek Orthodox decent and so is Eugenides. His descriptions of feeling foreign in the land of his ancestors were raw and empathetic, and struck a core with me personally. Bringing depression into the novel as a central theme was surprise, but one that grounds the novel and makes it more realistic. Which is even more true for the ending; leaving us with a conscious decision, that although I was hoping for another ending (the hopeless romantic within me was,) I wasn’t left with disappointment, but with a growing understanding that this is what must be.
The journey that the characters embark on is more than a right of passage novel could depict. It is a truthful, thought-provoking and painfully lovely story of three twenty-something’s hoping to find their place in the world as well as in each other’s.