On Finishing Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot

I don’t agree with Emperor Joseph II that Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro had “too many notes,”  but I do think that Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot had too many words.  The extra words aren’t evenly distributed.  They seem to have piled up in the middle third of the book: starting with the initial descriptions of Leonard’s manic depressive psychosis and continuing through the strangely unmoving descriptions of Mitchell’s experiences as a volunteer in Mother Teresa’s Home for the Dying in India.  I just didn’t care.

I enjoyed the last 80 or so pages (the last 20% of the book)–the two final chapters in which 1) Leonard and Madeleine get married, honeymoon, and melt down; and 2) Madeleine and Mitchell do the right thing and don’t even think about getting married after all.  Thank goodness for small favors.  I couldn’t have dealt with an ending that saddled Madeleine with Mitchell.   Eeeeeew.

The actual ending–the author’s summing up of the plot through Madeleine and Mitchell’s final conversation–is a bit much, although it is pleasantly self-referential.  It didn’t make me smile, exactly, but the corners of my mouth did turn up a little bit.

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