Nominated by:

Lincoln Library, Springfield, USA

Auckland Libraries, New Zealand

Veria Central Public Library, Greece

Serres Central Public Library, Greece

Stadtbüchereien Düsseldorf, Germany

Jacksonville Public Library, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, USA

The Marriage Plot

Jeffrey Eugenides    

2013 Longlist

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.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Jeffrey Eugenides grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and attended Brown and Stanford Universities. His novel Middlesex was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Ambassador Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, France’s Prix Medicis, and the Lambda Literary Award.  It was also selected for Oprah’s Book Club. Eugenides’ first novel, The Virgin Suicides, was adapted into a critically-acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola. He is on the faculty of Princeton University, and lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Librarians’ Comments

Does literature matter? Yes, it does! Eugenides links the 19th centur love stories to young people’s lives today and – no surprise: the neverending, everlasting topic of life = love! Intelligent, entertaining read!

A moving novel of love, sex and marriage, focusing on the relations of three graduates in 1982. Besides a romance the novel explodes the morals, the culture and politics of an upcoming generation.

A brilliant and satisfying novel, dealing with relationships and modern love. Also it could be characterized as a powerful, smart and entertaining novel.

As librarians we particularly enjoyed the literature-loving main character and many references to the greatest English novels. But all of us – librarians and our library users alike – thought it was a great love story as well, an old story told in a new way.

This humorous, thoughtful novel blends the worlds of literature and philosophy to craft together a satisfying look at the role of marriage and the nature of love.

The Marriage Plot is a story about being young, Being smart and being lost. Set in the early 1980s when the three main characters graduate from Brown University Eugenides follows them on their way to adulthood and a world which makes them question everything they have learned. This is a novel for people who love to read and who love books.

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