When I sat down to write this review, I stared at the screen for a good five minutes, unable to find the words to describe this book or my feelings on it. The reason for that, I think, is because it’s a novel that requires you to sit back and reflect and, I admit, I haven’t had enough time to do that. One of the reasons for this is that I immediately dove into our January Book of the Month and didn’t really sort out my impressions of Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell.
“The Marriage Plot” is almost exactly what you think it will be and so completely not. Before reading it, I knew that it would involve a love triangle of sorts but I was unprepared for the depth of character and complexity of emotions that each of our protagonists display. Their relationships with each other come across very primal and toxic at the same time, as each person acts on impulse, emphasizing the insecurities they feverishly try to hide. In a sense, this book could almost be described as a coming of age story since, by the end, they’re completely different people than when they started. They manage to embrace themselves and flourish into who they were always meant to be.
I feel like I could go on and on about this book, discussing the interesting setting that is the 1980s, the influence our parents have on us and the misunderstanding of mental illness but instead, I’m going to keep it short and urge you to read one of the smartest books I’ve encountered in a while. You won’t regret traveling the world with Mitchell, learning of your inner strength with Madeleine and crying at the unravelling of the genius that is Leonard.
- Grade: Must-read – I really am giving you no choice.
- What’s it about: The complex relationships of three characters who, over the course of nine months, graduate from Brown, travel the world, fall in love and go completely insane in their own unique ways.
- Who should read this book: Readers who enjoy complex, layered stories – this is not necessarily a quick read but you will know these characters through and through by the time you’re done.
- When should they read it: If you’re looking for a serious novel, written by a serious writer – this guy won a Pulitzer Prize!
- Where can you find it: Amazon.com for $11 – it came out in paperback recently.
PS: If you’re looking for a much more comprehensive review of “The Marriage Plot,” check out what my friend Alison had to say. She’s much more eloquent than me and hits the essence of the book right on the head.