The first thing I tell anybody asking me about The Marriage Plot is that I hate Madeleine Hanna. If I had thrown my book on the floor every time I wanted to bash her head in, I would have had no book to read by the end of the first part.
Madeleine Hanna is the kind of self-absorbed middle class brat who ruins lives just by acting selfish and convincing herself she is being generous. I am pretty sure I have slapped one of those girls before, at the very least because she “got bored” of yet another good guy who didn’t deserve to be treated like shit.
The two male co-protagonists Leonard and Mitchell move through time and space, but their lives are somehow always pivoting around Madeleine. In 1982 all three are graduating from Brown University and facing a unsure future during the 1980s recession.
Jumping back and forth in time, and often narrating the same event or period from different points of view, The Marriage Plot talks about love and suffering through the eyes of three people who are still trying to figure it out. Madeleine has no idea of what she wants to do with her life, but is slowly caving in to the pressures of her parents who want her to be perfect. Mitchell is essentially trying to find a path to sainthood, and running away from Madeleine at the same time. Leonard is, well, losing it.
A marriage plot of sorts ties the novel together: the two suitors try to get Madeleine, who has been analysing 19th century novels for years and has always separated fictional love and real life. But the story is bigger than that: the protagonists allow their lives to be turned upside down because of love, and make choices that are unsafe for themselves and for others.
They behave in a way that is timeless. They were born in the early ’60s, like my parents, but I had the distinct feeling of knowing them straight from the beginning of the novel. Despite the many differences between young adults of the ’80s and young adults of 2010, The Marriage Plot conveys perfectly the fact that certain dynamics repeat themselves over and over and no one ever learns from them.
2011, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Goodreads.
Found via: The fact that everyone has been talking about it since it was published.
Suggested to: 20-somethings going through a life crisis. This will seriously mess you up.