Book Review: The Marriage Plot

The “marriage plot” is a common literary [and now film] device wherein the storyline is developed around courtship rituals.  Two people are perfect for each other only they can’t see it because a) there’s a love triangle (“27 Dresses”), b) religious/political differences (“My Big Fat Greek Wedding”) or c) other “insurmountable” obstacle (“Monster-in-Law”).  In the end, all works out and there’s a fun wedding for the couple who was meant to be together all along.

Jeffrey Eugenides reexamines the marriage plot and takes it out of Jane Austen’s era and into the 1980s.  Madeleine is graduating from Brown and has two suitors to consider: the mysterious and intense Leonard and the plainThings are a little more complicated in modern times.  There are grad schools to consider and prenups to draft up, but the marriage plot persists.  I guess we all crave a little romantic drama.

As evidenced by the plethera of romantic comedies, the marriage plot is alive and well, but it’s what Eugenides does with it on the very last page that I appreciated the most.  Not going to give it away, but it’s definitely a new take on this sort of storyline.

the marriage plot

3 out of 5 stars.