Fourth Estate £8.99 (406pp) £8.54 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The Marriage Plot, By Jeffrey Eugenides
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Friday 20 April 2012
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?
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