“Hurray! This segment is back!” (is what I’m sure you are all saying out with glee, hands raised above your head in a ‘hallelujah’)
OK, maybe not, but while I have read a few books over the past couple of weeks, none of them have really tickled my fancy. Good to read to avoid crazies on the tram, but not good enough to leave me sleep deprived.
And really, at the end of the day (or at 3am, either one) sleep deprivation is the classic way to determine whether you’ve been enjoying what you’re reading.
Finally, finally, I came across a book I liked (not loved, I still seemed to hit the hay before midnight); The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. As a pulitzer prize-winning author of The Virgin Suicides (one of the more weirder books I’ve read), Eugenides has a bit of a reputation to uphold. Thank goodness, he managed to uphold it.
Set in the 1980s, The Marriage Plot follows the lives of three college students as they leave university and enter ‘the real world’; Madeleine Hanna, Mitchell Grammaticus and Leonard Bankhead. While Madeleine may be considered the primary character of the novel, as she holds the affections of both Mitchell and Leonard, we are also privy to the emotions and actions of the two men in their first year after university finishes. While Madeleine retreats to Cape Cod to be with her manic-depressive, but brilliant boyfriend Leonard, Mitchell spends the year travelling through Europe and India, trying to find both his place in religion, and how to handle his unrequited emotions for Madeleine.
What I liked about this book is that while there were issues I haven’t personally dealt with (and may I never have to deal with manic-depression), and it was set 30 years ago, I could relate to the characters and the situation they were in. I too am in my final year of uni and its a tough decision to decide what the heck to do with my life when I finish; continue to study, piss off overseas for a year or get a job, find a man and become a sensible adult. These are my choices. But it doesn’t necessarily make it easier.
Personally, I loved hearing Mitchell’s experiences as he travels through Europe and India, particularly India, which surprised me because I don’t really have any urge to go there. Yet his experiences as a volunteer (which, from experience, always sounds more worldly and serving than the reality, which is often boredom), especially since he wished to get closer to God, gave me a new perspective I wasn’t expecting.
What I did, and didn’t, like about The Marriage Plot was the relationship between Madeleine and Leonard. Considering how intelligent she is meant to be, I didn’t expect her to continually believe that she could ‘fix’ Leonard, but perhaps that was Eugenides way of showing the dysfunctional aspects of love? And while I can appreciate that on a level, I also spent the whole novel wishing for Madeleine to see the potential of Mitchell, but once again, perhaps some people should remain as friends?
Overall, this book kept me entertained and made me ask myself some questions. Plus, hearing first hand (even fictional) experiences of Europe is always going to be good.
Have you read The Marriage Plot? Are you a fan of Jeffrey Eugenides? Let me know!
P.S. On the off-chance anyone was wondering, I’ve decided to study some more, and then travel for a while. Basically, anything to postpone being a real adult.