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The Marriage Plot: A Novel Paperback – September 4, 2012


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The Marriage Plot: A Novel + Middlesex: A Novel (Oprah's Book Club) + The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) (National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction Finalists)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781250014764
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250014764
  • ASIN: 125001476X
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (611 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: Even among authors, Jeffrey Eugenides possesses a rare talent for being able to inhabit his characters. In The Marriage Plot, his third novel and first in ten years (following the Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex), Eugenides describes a year or so in the lives of three college seniors at Brown in the early 80s. There is Madeleine, a self-described “incurable romantic” who is slightly embarrassed at being so normal. There is Leonard, a brilliant, temperamental student from the Pacific Northwest. And completing the triangle is Mitchell, a Religious Studies major from Eugenides’ own Detroit. What follows is a book delivered in sincere and genuine prose, tracing the end of the students’ college days and continuing into those first, tentative steps toward true adulthood. This is a thoughtful and at times disarming novel about life, love, and discovery, set during a time when so much of life seems filled with deep portent. --Chris Schluep --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Eugenides’s ability to reinvent the timeless tale of love and soul-searching is swoon-worthy."---Vanity Fair • "I gorged myself on The Marriage Plot."---Geoff Dyer • "A masterful storyteller."---The Seattle Times • "Audacious and moving."---Time • "Extremely ambitious…surprising, and propulsive."---Chicago Sun-Times • "Deeply humane and elegantly constructed."---NPR • "The finale of The Marriage Plot is unexpected, beautiful, and---Dare we hope?---timeless."---The Cleveland Plain Dealer • "A master of voice."---The Washington Post • "Great serious romantic fun."---Chicago Tribune • "Wry, engaging, and beautifully constructed."---The New York Times Book Review • "A remarkable achievement."---The Independent (London) • "You’ll never want The Marriage Plot to end."---Elle

More About the Author

Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit and attended Brown and Stanford Universities. His first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was published by Farrar, Straus, & Giroux to great acclaim in 1993, and he has received numerous awards for his work.

Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
5 star
134
4 star
154
3 star
138
2 star
108
1 star
77
See all 611 customer reviews
Interesting story with great characters & good plot.
pfloydette
Began reading this novel expecting another good story like the author's Middlesex but what I found instead was a boring plot and uninteresting characters.
Dominic J. Grady
It's a novel for lovers of literature, but its heavy reliance on literary criticism makes the plot seem too contrived.
kcuccia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
While I accept the premise of "The Marriage Plot" in literature, the claustrophobic world of Rhode Island's Brown University campus, the intimacies of the three protagonists and the endless particulars of the author's descriptions, I struggle throughout the novel to maintain interest in the characters as they act out the author's theme in real life, a formula writ long ago. The story begins with Madeleine Hanna's graduation ceremony, a girl fascinated with Victorian writers Jane Austen, George Eliot and Henry James, the ease and simplicity of regimented society, the men in her life viewed through that romantic prism, the molding of those we love into acceptable roles, a society married its vision of success. Life never delivers the expected, however- sometimes not even the acceptable- but Madeleine finds refuge in Victorian conventions, Eugenides waxing nostalgic for the putative good old days of the eighties, expounding freely on the college experience, laced liberally with the students' penchant for breaching intellectual boundaries, Greek life, a social milieu thriving in a mild political environment.

Daughter of privilege, Madeleine possesses natural beauty in abundance, a senior concentrating on her thesis, lately enamored of theory, philosophy and semiotics. She is helpless to resist the enigmatic Leonard Bankhead, who lives frugally and perhaps harbors deeper secrets. The third element of Eugenides' emotional ménage a trios is Mitchell Grammaticus, a young man deeply inspired by religious studies planning to travel to India, hopelessly in love with Madeleine, who sees only Leonard.
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797 of 916 people found the following review helpful By Mom of Sons VINE VOICE on November 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wow. I consider myself fairly intelligent and with at least an average knowledge of books and authors. But reading The Marriage Plot made me realize how dumb I really am. Every other sentence contains an obscure literary or philosophical reference of which I have never heard. I'm quite interested in the three main characters--the woman and two men in the "love triangle" that begins in their 1980s college years at Brown University--but I can barely get through the constant allusions to philosophical and fictional literary "tropes" (I looked it up.)

Go ahead and hate my review if you will. I spent two weeks diligently plowing through 70 pages of this book. I'm sure it is wonderful, will probably win another Pulitzer for its brilliant author. But for me, reading it was like sitting between two members of the literary intelligentsia at a dinner party, as they try to one-up each other with the depth and breadth of their vast knowledge. I was simultaneously bored,lost and annoyed.
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236 of 270 people found the following review helpful By JSC Siow on October 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover
One is led to expect it - a new novel by a much-hyped author following on a earlier success. For a number of reasons, I'm glad I read and finished this novel; at the same time however, I'm left dissatisfied and disappointed.

This novel seemed a pale shadow of his earlier work Middlesex - both in the writing and the plot. Young female protagonist gets saddled with an infirm fiance/husband and who then lives in a quandary - sounds a lot like Ann Packer's The Dive from Clausen's Pier. But that's where the resemblance ends. While Packer packed (!) an emotional punch with her deeply nuanced rendering of her protagonist's emotional life and in the process humanized her despite her evident flaws, Eugenides' rendering and characterization of HIS protagonist as well as the other characters by contrast revealed rather thin silhouettes.

It may be an effect of the novel's overall tone and voice; Eugenides assumes a chipper and distantly objective voice in dissecting his characters' inner voices and emotional turmoil, mental lives and activities. His cool, shrink-like/God-like stance however keeps us at a distance and thus from empathizing with their travails despite at times sympathetic portrayals; instead of being drawn into the felt hurts and rawness of their dilemmas, there was a constant underlying thrum reminding me of who they were in the times they lived in (early 1980s) i.e. privileged and self-absorbed college graduates without especially great financial concerns or obligations other than to themselves and what they felt entitled to. There was a diffuse sense of their sophomoric attitudes, jejune concerns and overall busy-ness in tending to themselves and nursing their mental images of each other, such that when reality intruded in a big way, they were all hugely unmatched.
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80 of 93 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on November 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I had such high hopes for this novel. I loved Middlesex, and was an English major at an Ivy league school in the 80's - I figured it was made for me. I even had comp lit and lit criticism background, so was ready to dig in. I think the fault might be rooted in the characters - as other reviewers have said, it was hard to CARE about any of them. The beautiful heroine who can get any boy but of course falls for the one who can never make her happy, her privileged family, the depressed but interesting boyfriend. At no point did any of these characters feel real or even convincing. Of the 4000 students at my college, 3990 were more interesting than Madeline and Leonard. They felt more like overdrawn portraits of someone's imagined college roommates rather than any actual character who might have attended Brown in the 80's. The pacing was odd too - the beginning was very weighted down in the college experience with a bit of a jaunt through literary criticism - this was dry to say the least. At times, I had flashbacks to reading the semioticians, deconstructionists (did my share of Derrida and Eco) but the author's prose often felt pedantic for pedantic's sake without adding much to the plot. In fact, I felt like I was reading Kristeva (not a good thing) as the narrative become a bit like a jungle at times. Would I ever make it to the heart of darkness? Barely...after a LOT of college life, suddenly the two lovers marry, go on honeymoon and all hell breaks loose - at the same time, we watch back up boyfriend and follow his peregrinations in India while he tries to work out his own issues, all to win the girl. By the end, as Leonard spiraled into depression, I just didn't care anymore. I felt no sympathy for any of them.Read more ›
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