Jun 27th, 2012 by Annie
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
|The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides centers around the lives of three 1982 Brown University graduates, as they attempt to make sense of their lives following graduation.
Madeleine Hanna comes from a well-to-do family and earns her degree in English literature. She plans to pursue Victorian literature in graduate school. She loves Leonard.
Mitchell Grammaticus earns a degree in religious studies, and plans to attend divinity school after he returns from his trip to Europe and India. He considers Madeleine his ideal woman.
Leonard Bankhead earns his degree in biology, and is awarded a research science fellowship in Cape Cod. He struggles with mental illness.
Book Club Ideas
Madeleine’s mother helped make the family’s move to Prettybrook, New Jersey easier for the adolescent Madeleine by decorating her room with her favorite heroine, Madeline. The Madeline decor remained in her room unchanged.
Your The Marriage Plot book club party could include Madeline decorations. I found a large 24-piece Madeline puzzle at Amazon.com and set out a Madeline book. I also set out Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge, a book about Mother Teresa, that had a profound effect on Mitchell, and a black cape to represent the cape Leonard wore while gambling in Monte Cristo.
Leonard serenaded Madeleine on the Kokle which he learned to play from Mr. and Mrs. Bruveris. Leonard explains the kokle to Madeleine in the excerpt below:
“Do you know what a kokle is? It’s sort of like a zither, but Latvian.“Anyway, I used to hear Mr. and Mrs. Bruveris playing their kokles over in the next yard. It was an amazing sound. Sort of wild and overstimulated on the one hand, but melancholy on the other. The kokle is the manic-depressive of the string family.”
Book Club Menu
Your book club menu for The Marriage Plot can include Greek Wedding Soup in honor of Mitchell’s heritage and in keeping with the novel’s marriage theme.
French Wedding Cookies for the French honeymoon in Madeleine’s dreams.
And, for Leonard, an apple pie with a slice of Wisconsin cheddar on top. Click here for our favorite apple pie recipes on our pie page.
Book Club Resources
Ratings at the time this post was published
|Goodreads: 3.45 stars (26,124 ratings)|
|Amazon: 3.1 stars (333 ratings)|
|LibraryThing: 3.61 stars (449 ratings)|
|My Rating: 3.75 stars Mitchell was my favorite character and his Indian storyline was my favorite section of the novel, but I still didn’t fully understand his motives throughout the novel. The depicition of Leonard’s manic behavior was realistic. But I found the Madeleine character (my least favorite) to be flat and weak. Overall, I enjoyed this novel and would recommend it.|
- Madeleine’s favorite books were Victorian novels with a marriage plot. Does Madeleine’s romantic side make it difficult for her to face troubling realities in her own love relationships?
- Were you more attracted to Leonard or to Mitchell? If you are over 35 would your choice have been different at 22?
- Alwyn seems to enjoy shocking her family. Why do you think she does that?
- Why do you think Mitchell fled Mother Teresa’s charity home in Calcutta?
- Mitchell wrote a letter to Madeleine while in India. Did you believe Madeleine when she denied receiving it? Why or why not?
- Why did Madeleine get so defensive when Alwyn confronted her about Leonard’s illness?
A complete list of the publisher’s discussion questions can be found at litlovers.com
Purchase The Marriage Plot at your favorite bookseller
|Jeffrey Eugenides was born in Detroit in 1960. He graduated from Brown Unviversity and received his M.A. in Creative Writing from Stanford University. His numerous awards include the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Whiting Writers’ Award, New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year, Ambassador Book Award for Fiction. Jeffrey currently resides in Princeton, New Jersey with his wife and daughter.|
Other Works by Author and Recommended Reading
|Middlesex||The Virgin Suicides|
A Favorite Quote
“There are some books that reached through the noise of life to grab you by the collar and speak only of the truest things.”
Do you have any other ideas or recipes for a book club party for The Marriage Plot? We would love to have you share them with us! You can leave a comment below and upload pictures as well.
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