IoS paperback review: The Marriage Plot, By Jeffrey Eugenides


Like George Eliot, the 19th-century writer on whom he models his 21st-century tale, Eugenides wants to look beyond the "marriage plot" of traditional romances that end with a wedding and happy-ever-after, and consider what happens to a couple when they go on to make a life together.

For all the distress that is brought on the head of his heroine, Madeleine Hanna, and all the trouble that her disaster of a husband heaps on her, this depiction of a modern relationship is also tender, sympathetic, often funny, and wise with it. There is a likeable quality to all the major characters, even the depressive young husband Leonard Bankhead who seduces Madeleine with his literary theories and grand but ridiculous visions, and a truthfulness about what people want from each other, and what happens when they fail to get it.