Excerpt from The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Marriage Plot

A Novel

by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides X
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2011, 416 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2012, 464 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Elizabeth Whitmore Funk

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"No."

"Are you two still planning to live together this summer?"

By this time Madeleine had taken a bite of her bagel. And since the answer to her mother's question was complicated - strictly speaking, Madeleine and Leonard weren't planning on living together, because they'd broken up three weeks ago; despite this fact, however, Madeleine hadn't given up hope of a reconciliation, and seeing as she'd spent so much effort getting her parents used to the idea of her living with a guy, and didn't want to jeopardize that by admitting that the plan was off - she was relieved to be able to point at her full mouth, which prevented her from replying.

"Well, you're an adult now," Phyllida said. "You can do what you like. Though, for the record, I have to say that I don't approve."

"You've already gone on record about that," Alton broke in.

"Because it's still a bad idea!" Phyllida cried. "I don't mean the propriety of it. I'm talking about the practical problems. If you move in with Leonard - or any young man - and he's the one with the job, then you begin at a disadvantage. What happens if you two don't get along? Where are you then? You won't have any place to live. Or anything to do."

That her mother was correct in her analysis, that the predicament Phyllida warned Madeleine about was exactly the predicament she was already in, didn't motivate Madeleine to register agreement.

"You quit your job when you met me," Alton said to Phyllida.

"That's why I know what I'm talking about."

"Can we change the subject?" Madeleine said at last, having swallowed her food.

"Of course we can, sweetheart. That's the last I'll say about it. If your plans change, you can always come home. Your father and I would love to have you."

"Not me," Alton said. "I don't want her. Moving back home is always a bad idea. Stay away."

"Don't worry," Madeleine said. "I will."

"The choice is yours," Phyllida said. "But if you do come home, you could have the loft. That way you can come and go as you like."

To her surprise, Madeleine found herself contemplating this proposal. Why not tell her parents everything, curl up in the backseat of the car, and let them take her home? She could move into her old bedroom, with the sleigh bed and the Madeline wallpaper. She could become a spinster, like Emily Dickinson, writing poems full of dashes and brilliance, and never gaining weight.

Phyllida brought her out of this reverie.

"Maddy?" she said. "Isn't that your friend Mitchell?"

Madeleine wheeled in her seat. "Where?"

"I think that's Mitchell. Across the street."

In the churchyard, sitting Indian-style in the freshly mown grass, Madeleine's "friend" Mitchell Grammaticus was indeed there. His lips were moving, as if he was talking to himself.

"Why don't you invite him to join us?" Phyllida said.

"Now?"

"Why not? I'd love to see Mitchell."

"He's probably waiting for his parents," Madeleine said.

Phyllida waved, despite the fact that Mitchell was too far away to notice.

"What's he doing sitting on the ground?" Alton asked.

The three Hannas stared across the street at Mitchell in his half-lotus.

"Well, if you're not going to ask him, I will," Phyllida finally said.

"O.K.," Madeleine said. "Fine. I'll go ask him."

The day was getting warmer, but not by much. Black clouds were massing in the distance as Madeleine came down the steps of Carr House and crossed the street into the churchyard. Someone inside the church was testing the loudspeakers, fussily repeating, "Sussex, Essex, and Kent. Sussex, Essex, and Kent." A banner draped over the church entrance read "Class of 1982." Beneath the banner, in the grass, was Mitchell. His lips were still moving silently, but when he noticed Madeleine approaching they abruptly stopped.

Madeleine remained a few feet away.

Excerpted from The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Copyright © 2011 by Jeffrey Eugenides. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Prominent Victorian Writers

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Art of the Wasted Day
    The Art of the Wasted Day
    by Patricia Hampl
    Patricia Hampl wants you to know that daydreaming is not a waste of a day. Nor is spending time ...
  • Book Jacket: Circe
    Circe
    by Madeline Miller
    Towards the end of Madeline Miller's novel Circe, the titular nymph is questioned by her son ...
  • Book Jacket: All the Names They Used for God
    All the Names They Used for God
    by Anjali Sachdeva
    Pre-publication press has already compared Anjali Sachdeva to Kelly Link and other genre-blending ...
  • Book Jacket: Look Alive Out There
    Look Alive Out There
    by Sloane Crosley
    After a brief (and thoroughly enjoyable) foray into fiction (with her 2015 novel The Clasp), Sloane ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Music of the Ghosts by Vaddey Ratner

A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Other People's Houses
    by Abbi Waxman

    A hilarious and poignant novel about four families and the affair that changes everything.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Leavers

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

One of the most anticipated books of 2017--now in paperback!

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T E H N Clothes

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.