The Marriage Plot, By Jeffrey Eugenides


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The Independent Culture

Dark-hued romcom, campus farce, postmodern frolic, hommage to classics – Eugenides's novel of smart but gormless students has snared the affections of both trad and trendy readers.

At a 1980s US college, English major Madeleine finds that reality begins to rival and quarrel with the canonical romances of Austen or Eliot. In a by-the-book dilemma, she wavers between smouldering, troubled scientist Leonard and questing, religious Mitchell.

Life and love both underline, and undermine, the great works, as the fractious trio carry ideas from literary theory, psychiatry and theology down the twisting paths of their affairs.

After an excursion to India that brings its own epiphanies, classical and modern plots must entwine – but precisely how?