The Marriage Plot|Jeffrey Eugenides
The Marriage Plot
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A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

Named a Best Book of the Year by
The New York Times Book Review - NPR - The New Republic - Salon - The Seattle Times - Houston Chronicle - The Miami Herald - Publisher's Weekly

Remind s] us with uncommon understanding what it is to be young and idealistic, in pursuit of true love, and in love with books and ideas.--Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

A grand romance in the Austen tradition.--USA Today

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?

It's the early 1980s. In American colleges, 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 studies the age-old motivations of the human heart, real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes---the charismatic and intense Leonard Bankhead, and her old friend the mystically inclined Mitchell Grammaticus. As all three of them face life in the real world they will have to reevaluate everything they have learned. Jeffrey Eugenides creates a new kind of contemporary love story in his most powerful novel yet (Newsweek).


  • ISBN-13: 9781250014764
  • ISBN-10: 125001476X
  • Publisher: Picador USA
  • Publish Date: September 2012
  • Dimensions: 8.35 x 5.54 x 1.19 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.67 pounds
  • Page Count: 416

The Hold List: February 2019

All of our crushes are fictional characters. But what if we actually had the opportunity to date one of our imaginary loves? Just how good (or bad!) would that first date be? The editors have some thoughts.

Hagrid from the Harry Potter series
By J.K. Rowling

There are so many characters from Rowling’s world who’d be great on a date: Sirius Black, Hermione once she’s 30 (if Ron’s OK with it), either of the Weasley twins. But if I want to feel fancy, I’m taking Hagrid. Sure, his beard is out of control, and he’ll probably smell strongly of damp wool, but he gives the best hugs, and you know he’ll try really hard to make it a nice evening. He’ll get dressed up in his best suit, I’ll bring the (oversize, low-priced) bottle of wine, and he’ll show me his favorite clearing in the forest to watch the moon rise. I fully expect the date to be ruined by whatever magical creature is hidden away in his breast pocket, but that’s just fine with me.

—Cat, Deputy Editor

Nino from the Neapolitan Quartet
By Elena Ferrante

Ah, Nino Sarratore. What shy girl hasn’t had their own Nino Sarratore—the brilliant, somewhat pretentious boy you know would love you if you ever worked up the courage to talk to him. However, with the benefit of having read the rest of Ferrante’s brilliant Neapolitan novels, I know what lurks behind Nino’s appealing exterior. And ladies, he’s not worth any of our time. So this Valentine’s Day, I’ll take one for the team. I’ll go on a date with Nino and let him talk at me and think that I’m falling for his “more brilliant than you” act. And then, after I’ve gained his trust and made him think he’s gained a new acolyte-admirer, I’ll stomp on his heart on behalf of bookish girls everywhere.

—Savanna, Editorial Assistant

Leonard from The Marriage Plot
By Jeffrey Eugenides

Listen, I know he’s trouble. But I am in love with Leonard Bankhead. I love his brilliance, his passion, his intensity and his dark and terrible understanding of the world. If Leonard met me, he would realize that we were meant to be together. No one understands him like I do. Leonard and I are going to a dive bar, we’re getting shots of whiskey, and I don’t care what my mother says about it. We’ll talk about our favorite books and how messed up everything is. We’ll get into a heated argument about if reality television has any worth (it does, and I will introduce him to “Vanderpump Rules,” which he will admit to loving). Later, his career on track, he’ll name a type of algae after the color of my eyes: mud.

—Lily, Associate Editor

Matsu from The Samurai’s Garden
By Gail Tsukiyama

For intelligence and thoughtfulness, I’d turn to the devoted gardener from Tsukiyama’s tender, melancholy second novel, set in 1937. In this story about gracefully weathering loneliness and sorrow, Matsu tends his exquisite garden and frequently journeys to a leper colony, where he continues to care for his beloved. But readers only ever see Matsu through the eyes of Chinese student Stephen, and this gentle man deserves to rise above his secondary-character status. He’s such a classic kind of man that I’d love to see his reaction to a contemporary art museum some summer afternoon. Assuming that I’ve learned to speak Japanese for the date, it would be nice to walk silently through a gallery and debrief afterward. 

—Cat, Deputy Editor

Lilliet from The Queen of the Night
By Alexander Chee

James Bond, Holly Golightly, Jay Gatsby—how much fun would it be to go on a first date (but probably not a second) with one of fiction’s most notorious partiers? For glitz, glamour, scandal and an all-around epic night on the town, it would be hard to beat a visit to 19th-century Paris for a decadent costume party with soprano Lilliet Berne. In Chee’s second novel, Lilliet is a woman of many secrets—too many for a long-term relationship—and drama swirls around her to an improbable degree. But dressed in a fabulous costume and swathed in dazzling jewels—and with the possibility of dramatic escapes and scheming aristocrats—an evening spent with this rags-to-riches diva would be quite an adventure.

—Hilli, Assistant Editor


This article was originally published in the February 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.