The Marriage Plot: A Novel

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A New York Times Notable Book of 2011
A Publisher's Weekly Top 10 Book of 2011
A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Best Fiction of 2011 Title
One of Library Journal's Best Books of 2011
A Salon Best Fiction of 2011 title
One of The Telegraph's Best Fiction Books of the Year 2011

It's the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.

As Madeleine tries to understand why "it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France," real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead—charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy—suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old "friend" Mitchell Grammaticus—who's been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange—resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can't escape the secret responsible for Leonard's seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the Novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Published on
Oct 11, 2011
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Pages
416
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ISBN
9781429969185
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Jeffrey Eugenides
Jeffrey Eugenides
“To be up all night in the darkness of your youth but to be ready for the day to come…that was what going to Brown felt like.” —Jeffrey Eugenides

In celebration of Brown University’s 250th anniversary, fifty remarkable, prizewinning writers and artists who went to Brown provide unique stories—many published for the first time—about their adventures on College Hill. Funny, poignant, subversive, and nostalgic, the essays, comics, and poems in this collection paint a vivid picture of college life, from the 1950s to the present, at one of America’s most interesting universities.

Contributors:

Donald Antrim, Robert Arellano, M. Charles Bakst, Amy DuBois Barnett, Lisa Birnbach, Kate Bornstein, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Mary Caponegro, Susan Cheever, Brian Christian, Pamela Constable, Nicole Cooley, Dana Cowin, Spencer R. Crew, Edwidge Danticat, Dilip D’Souza, David Ebershoff, Jeffrey Eugenides, Richard Foreman, Amity Gaige, Robin Green, Andrew Sean Greer, Christina Haag, Joan Hilty, A.J. Jacobs, Sean Kelly, David Klinghoffer, Jincy Willett Kornhauser, Marie Myung-Ok Lee, David Levithan, Mara Liasson, Lois Lowry, Ira C. Magaziner, Madeline Miller, Christine Montross, Rick Moody, Jonathan Mooney, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Dawn Raffel, Bill Reynolds, Marilynne Robinson, Sarah Ruhl, Ariel Sabar, Joanna Scott, Jeff Shesol, David Shields, Krista Tippett, Alfred Uhry, Afaa Michael Weaver, and Meg Wolitzer

“At Brown, we felt safely ensconced in a carefree, counterculture cocoon—free to criticize the university president, join a strike by cafeteria workers, break china laughing, or kiss the sky.” —Pamela Constable
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