Three characters transform from students to graduates to young adults. But are their changes really acceptable?
“People would never fall in love if they hadn't heard love talked about.”
Eugenides is back with his third novel after a gap of nine years with a lovely tale that sheds new light on a love triangle. The story revolves around three central characters — Madeleine Hanna, Leonard Bankhead and Mitchell Grammaticus. Mitchell loves Madeleine who loves Leonard who loves Madeleine who likes Mitchell. The plot opens up in the early 80's at Brown University where the three casts are pursuing their studies and are just about to graduate .The author narrates the tale switching between each character's point of view slowly edging the plot forward along with reciting the story for each character.
Madeleine is a young lass, tall and pretty who loves literature and dreams of pursuing it in an Ivy league college. Eugenides brilliantly uses literary references and draws a parallel between Madeleine and the books she reads giving depth to her character. Mitchell Grammaticus is a bright man who is drawn towards religion and spirituality. He is also madly in love with Madeleine and wants to marry her but he was a tad bit late in expressing his feelings and lost her. To recover and get some direction in life he takes off on a year long trip to Europe and India to rediscover himself and his beliefs and ends up coming back to find out about stark realities .
Leonard Bankhead is charming and possesses spectacular intelligence but is pounded by manic depression that becomes his greatest asset. Leonard is prescribed with lithium as a diagnosis to his depression which ceases to help him as time goes by. His illness is due to his discomforting past and his family .As his relationship with Madeleine accelerates, he realises that he doesn't only just love Madeleine but also needs her.
The novel focuses on how life seemed so easy for the young high schoolers, but as they graduate and take charge of their own lives it gravitates towards the messy and unexpected. Eugenides shows the journey of its characters from high school to maturity through graduation, sexual freedom, feminism, mental illness, love, marriage and divorce. For those interested in a love story with flawed characters that seem eerily similar to themselves or people they know then Eugenides' superb writing style and narrative craft is sure to satisfy.
Title: The Marriage plot
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Publisher: Harper Collins
Price: Rs. 399
Vanessa is a III year CSE student at College of Engineering, Guindy