The Marriage Plot Read-A-Long

Beginning November 1st, Jen from Devourer of Books, Matt from A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook and Tina from Reader for Life will be reading Jeffrey Eugenides’ new novel, The Marriage Plot. This is his first novel since the publishing the Pulitzer Prize winning Middlesex and we are all excited.

Description from the Publisher

It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels.

As Madeleine tries to understand why “it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France,” real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead—charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy—suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old “friend” Mitchell Grammaticus—who’s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange—resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in) this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can’t escape the secret responsible for Leonard’s seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.

Are the great love stories of the nineteenth century dead? Or can there be a new story, written for today and alive to the realities of feminism, sexual freedom, prenups, and divorce? With devastating wit and an abiding understanding of and affection for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides revives the motivating energies of the Novel, while creating a story so contemporary and fresh that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.

We’ll be reading the novel over three weeks. We would love for you to join us! Here is the schedule. I’ll post discussion questions here on each of the dates listed below.

Week 1 (November 1 – 7, discussion questions posted November 8 )

A Madman in Love 3-127

Week 2 (November 9 – 14, discussion questions posted November 15)

Pilgrims 131 – 227
Brilliant Move 231 – 293

Week 3 (November 16 – 21, discussion questions posted November 22)

Asleep in the Lord 297 – 328
And Sometimes They Were Very Sad 331 – 383
The Bachelorette’s Survival Kit 387 – 406

The  Marriage Plot is available in hardcover, eBook and audiobook. For those who feel they might be too busy to read the book in print, selecting the audiobook is an excellent choice. The Marriage Plot is narrated by David Pittu is the narrator. Macmillan Audio has graciously sent me this audioclip as a sample:


No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong! I hope you can join us!





  • At 2011.10.28 14:22, Alyce said:

    I’m bummed because I’ve had this book checked out from the library but have had other things take precedence over reading it. I would love to participate, but really know that I have too much on my plate right now. I will keep this readalong in mind though if I have some extra time to fit it in.

    Read more from Alyce

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    • At 2011.11.04 19:57, Jennifer said:

      Alyce, even if you can’t join us, read the book! I LOVED it!

    • At 2011.10.29 10:32, Kailana said:

      Oh, this is a great idea! I wasn’t going to join in any more read-alongs for a while, but I think I will make an exception. I loved Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides, so this book has been making me nervous!

      • At 2011.11.04 19:58, Jennifer said:

        Kailana, I only meant to read ahead a week, but I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s different from Middlesex, but I loved it!!!!

      • At 2011.10.30 02:50, Cath @ Constance Reader said:

        I won’t have the time to join you guys in the readalong but I look forward to hearing everybody’s thoughts! Have fun. 🙂

        • At 2011.11.04 19:59, Jennifer said:

          Thanks for hanging out with us as we chat. 🙂

        • At 2011.11.01 10:39, amanda (tnrunner66) said:

          I’m planning on joining in. Starting the book today. Decided to go with the ebook version.

          • At 2011.11.04 19:59, Jennifer said:

            I saw this was your #fridayreads. I can’t wait until Tuesday to hear your thoughts.

          • At 2011.11.05 11:23, Amy said:

            I am really enjoying this book – all ready on page 200. I better slow down so that I don’t forget everything before you post the questions!

            • At 2011.11.07 10:10, Literate Housewife said:

              Hooray! I meant to only read a week ahead, but finished it in a weekend. Questions post tomorrow!

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