Okay, first of all, I have to say that I was probably a bit biased when I started reading this book because I knew my friend Ryan had some pretty serious frustrations about it. Unfortunately, I felt pretty much the same, though I may have liked the book a bit more than he did.
Since the book begins the day of Madeleine’s college graduation from Brown University, I expected that I’d feel kind of connected to the story, having graduated from college myself just over a month ago. However, I quickly realized that the differences between me and Ivy League students are vast, at least according to Eugenides’s descriptions. Madeleine comes from a wealthy family and feels put out by the fact that she has to entertain her parents for a bit before graduation. She’s recovering from a break up with a boyfriend who unfortunately becomes a major player in the book (I couldn’t stand Leonard as a character, so I really didn’t enjoy his parts of the book). The Marriage Plot isn’t really about anything specific; it follows the lives of two or three primary characters as they try to find themselves post-graduation.
I think I would have enjoyed this novel far more if I didn’t feel like Eugenides took major detours from the actual story to provide totally unnecessary details about various topics, from religion to Brown faculty members to scientific topics I don’t understand. Though these were vaguely relevant to the story, I mostly found these sections boring, and they seemed to me to be Eugenides’s way to prove his intelligence to readers. Not my thing.
In the end, I did find myself caring about the fates of Madeleine and Mitchell, the two characters I was most interested in, and I was happy to see that the book’s conclusion revolved around these two. I’m very happy to be done with The Marriage Plot after having devoted a week of my summer to reading it, and I’m very excited to be moving on to my reread of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, a book I know I love. Oh well. You live and learn, I guess.