Okay, I did not love The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eudenides, but I did not hate it either. The only reason I picked it up to begin with was for the Tournament of Books. I would have much rather read Middlesex first. Of my Goodreads friends that had read The Marriage Plot, two absolutely hated it and two absolutely loved it. So I sit squarely in the middle with this luke warm, wish there was a microwave around to heat it up some, literary, mush. Maybe I should put it down in the two star area, but I did like it better than Cat's Table and Stranger's Child.
As I have stated in other reviews, most of the time I only read the publishers synopsis on Goodreads and maybe one or two other reviews. I like to read a book with very few preconceptions. Like Sisters Brothers, I should have read a few more reviews. I have found two reviews this evening comparing The Marriage Plot with Eat Pray Love, which coincidentally I listed as one of my least favorite books ever on a friends facebook page!
So where should I begin with this little gem? The Marriage Plot is the "coming of age" story for three Brown College Students in the early 80's. I love the 80's, however the three books I have read lately based in the 80's (1Q84 and Ready Player One) have each been very lacking. The story is supposedly based on the "Marriage Plot" which I understand it is how a lot of the 1800 early fiction was set up. Two guys like one girl, girl chooses one of the two guys. I have not read much of the lit from back in "the day" as it typically has stupid girly covers. My one Jane Austin I guess follows that path - we have Lizzie, Mr. Darcy and then the weird pretentious religious cousin guy. My other book from that period would be Jane Eyre which had some slightly lame moments in it. Lets see, there is Jane and Mr. Rodchester and the wierd pretentious religious cousin guy. WOW!!! I guess this finally just made sense!!!! The Marriage Plot has Madelyn, Leonard and oh, well no, I guess he is not a cousin, and not really pretentious and not really weird but religious guy Mitchell. Well, I guess I will stick with the 3 stars since Mitchell was not Madelyn's cousin. But then, I could give it a 1/2 star for the fact that Mitchell stopped wearing deodorant. No, he definitely was not her cousin, so just 3 stars for me.
The Marriage Plot did follow this literary style which did not bother me. I did not really care for the first part of the book at all, especially the details of semionic or religious class studies. This really bored me and as I was listening to the book on audio, I could not really figure nor google what some of this was about. I can easily say, I would have flunked it. My other issues with the book was that at times I wanted to choke the characters or slap them or throw water in their faces. However, at one point or another, I did feel for each of them.
Interestingly, I have not seen many discussions on Euginides portrayal of a manic depressive person. This is really a touchy matter and the one part of the book that is going to stay with me - far more than who is going to marry who. My husband and I both have/had close family members with mental illness. It is so hard to live with and love with these individuals. Like I said earlier sometimes you just want to slap them. But, it is a disease they live with and inflict upon everyone that comes close to them. Sometimes, when they are on their meds, they are not too bad to be around. Other times you just know that they are manipulating you into whatever they want - because they can. It is hard for me to be reasonable in a situation when someone is just absolutely miserable to be around. I tend to think that it is just the way they want to be - or is it? Can they really help the way they are? Can you stop loving them because they are crazy and are driving you crazy as well? AARRGGHH!! So I would say, the second part of the book was frustrating for me as I struggled with Leonard's and Madelyn's relationship. But it is this part that is going to stay with me.
So, I neither liked or disliked this book. I listened to it on audio, which I do not recommend. The narrarator, David Pittu, was awful and could not do female voices at all. At first I hated Madelyn's mother as I hated the voice he gave her. She had her issues, but overall I ended up liking her despite the awful voice. For a book like this they should have had a male and female reader.
For the Tournament of Books, I would like to see it win the first round, only because I have it picked to win the first round in both of my brackets. I did not read Green Girl, so I don't have a fair comparison. From there, I would like to see it go up in flames, but as I think others have seemed to have liked it, I am afraid it will do well in the contest, so in my first contest, I picked it as a Zombie to come back in one contest to finish as a runner up to The Tigers Wife and in the second contest I hope it continues to burn and lose not once but twice to Art of Fielding which will then lose to the Tigers Wife for the championship.