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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (55,144 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jeffrey Eugenides Narrator: David Pittu Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2011 ISBN: 9781427213099
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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).

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Quotes & Awards

  • The performance of the unabridged audiobook by David Pittu is full of energy; Pittu keeps the characters distinct and is able to deliver even the passages that are theory-heavy with enthusiasm. Metapsychology Online Reviews
  • Broadway veteran actor David Pittu brings unpretentious but perfect diction to the role of reader…It's much as you would like to hear it yourself in your mind's ear. Capital
  • Wry, engaging and beautifully constructed. William Deresiewicz, The New York Times Book Review
  • [The Marriage Plot] is sly, fun entertainment, a confection for English majors and book lovers . . . Mr. Eugenides brings the period into bright detail--the brands of beer, the music, the affectations--and his send-ups of the pretensions of chic undergraduate subcultures are hilarious and charmingly rendered . . . [His] most mature and accomplished book so far Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal
  • No one's more adept at channeling teenage angst than Jeffrey Eugenides. Not even J. D. Salinger . . . It's in mapping Mitchell's search for some sort of belief that might fill the spiritual hole in his heart and Madeleine's search for a way to turn her passion for literature into a vocation that this novel is at its most affecting, reminding 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
  • This is a story about being young and bright and lost, a story Americans have been telling since Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Our exceptionally well-read but largely untested graduates still wonder: How should I live my life? What can I really believe in? Whom should I love? Literature has provided a wide range of answers to those questions--Lose Lady Brett! Give up on Daisy! Go with Team Edward!--but in the end, novels aren't really very good guidebooks. Instead, they're a chance to exercise our moral imagination, and this one provides an exceptionally witty and poignant workout. Ron Charles, The Washington Post
  • If there is a writer to whom Eugenides appears connected, it is not Wallace but Jonathan Franzen. They are less than a year apart in age, and while Franzen got a head start, the two, who are both with the same publisher, are on similar publishing schedules. Last year, Franzen's Freedom was a bestseller; like The Marriage Plot, it's a robust, rich story of adults in a love triangle. Eugenides benefits by the comparison: This book is sweeter, kinder, with a more generous heart. What's more, it is layered with exactly the kinds of things that people who love novels will love. Carolyn Kellogg, Los Angeles Times
  • Eugenides steers effortlessly through the intertwining tales of his three protagonists, shifting seamlessly among their three viewpoints and overlapping their stories in a way that's easy to follow and never labored. His prose is smooth but never flashy, and his eye for the telling detail or gesture is keen. Slowly but confidently he fleshes out his characters, and as they slowly accrue weight and realism, readers will feel increasingly opinionated about the choices they make . . . It's heavy stuff, but Eugenides distinguishes himself from too many novelists who seem to think a somber tone equates to a serious purpose. The Marriage Plot is fun to read and ultimately affirming. Patrick Condon, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Eugenides, a master storyteller, has a remarkable way of twisting his narrative in a way that seems effortless; taking us backward and forward in time to fill in details . . . For these characters, who don't live in Jane Austen's world, no simple resolution will do for them in the world. And yet you close this book with immense satisfaction--falling in love just a bit yourself, with a new kind of marriage plot. Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times
  • Jeffrey Eugenides, in his glorious new novel, mines our thrall and eternal unease around sex, love and marriage . . . At its core, The Marriage Plot is besotted with books, flush with literary references. It seems coyly designed to become the volume all former English majors take to their breasts. Karen Long, The Plain Dealer
  • There has been a storybook quality to much American fiction recently--larger-than-life, hyper-exuberant, gaudy like the superhero comics and fairy tales that have inspired it. By sticking to ordinary human truth, Eugenides has bucked this trend and written his most powerful book yet. Zachary Lazar, Newsday
  • Befitting [Eugenides's] status as that rare author who bridges both highbrow book clubs and best-seller lists, his third novel is a grand romance in the Austen tradition--one that also deconstructs the very idea of why we'd still find pleasure in such a timeworn narrative style. It's a book that asks why we love to read, yet is so relentlessly charming, smart and funny that it answers its own question. David Daley, USA TODAY
  • There are serious pleasures here for people who love to read. Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
  • Eugenides's first novel since 2002's Pulitzer Prize–winning Middlesex so impressively, ambitiously breaks the mold of its predecessor that it calls for the founding of a new prize to recognize its success both as a novel--and as a Jeffrey Eugenides novel. Importantly but unobtrusively set in the early 1980s, this is the tale of Madeleine Hanna, recent Brown University English grad, and her admirer Mitchell Grammaticus, who opts out of Divinity School to walk the earth as an ersatz pilgrim. Madeleine is equally caught up, both with the postmodern vogue (Derrida, Barthes)--conflicting with her love of James, Austen, and Salinger--and with the brilliant Leonard Bankhead, whom she met in semiotics class and whose fits of manic depression jeopardize his suitability as a marriage prospect. Meanwhile, Mitchell winds up in Calcutta working with Mother Theresa's volunteers, still dreaming of Madeleine. In capturing the heady spirit of youthful intellect on the verge, Eugenides revives the coming-of-age novel for a new generation The book's fidelity to its young heroes and to a superb supporting cast of enigmatic professors, feminist theorists, neo-Victorians, and concerned mothers, and all of their evolving investment in ideas and ideals is such that the central argument of the book is also its solution: the old stories may be best after all, but there are always new ways to complicate them. Publisher's Weekly (starred review)
  • In Eugenides' first novel since the Pulitzer Prize–winning Middlesex (2002), English major and devotee of classic literature Madeleine Hanna is a senior at Reagan-era Brown University. Only when curiosity gets the best of her does she belly up to Semiotics 211, a bastion of postmodern liberalism, and meet handsome, brilliant, mysterious Leonard Bankhead. Completing a triangle is Madeleine's friend Mitchell, a clear-eyed religious-studies student who believes himself her true intended. Eugenides' drama unfolds over the next year or so. His characteristically deliberate, researched realization of place and personality serve him well, and he strikes perfectly tuned chords by referring to works ranging from Barthes' Lovers' Discourse to Bemelmans' Madeline books for children. The remarkably à propos title refers to the subject of Madeleine's honors thesis, which is the Western novel's doing and undoing, in that, upon the demise, circa 1900, of the marriage plot, the novel ‘didn't mean much anymore,' according to Madeleine's professor and, perhaps, Eugenides. With this tightly, immaculately self-contained tale set upon pillars at once imposing and of dollhouse scale, namely, academia (‘College wasn't like the real world,' Madeleine notes) and the emotions of the youngest of twentysomethings, Eugenides realizes the novel whose dismantling his characters examine. Annie Bostrom, Booklist (starred review)
  • A stunning novel--erudite, compassionate and penetrating in its analysis of love relationships. Eugenides focuses primarily on three characters, who all graduate from Brown in 1982. One of the pieces of this triangle is Madeleine Hanna, who finds herself somewhat embarrassed to have emerged from a "normal" household in New Jersey (though we later find out the normality of her upbringing is only relative). She becomes enamored with Leonard, a brilliant but moody student, in their Semiotics course, one of the texts being, ironically, Roland Barthes' A Lover's Discourse, which Madeleine finds disturbingly problematic in helping her figure out her own love relationship. We discover that Leonard had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder during his first year at Brown, and his struggle with mood swings throughout the novel is both titanic and tender. The third major player is Mitchell, a Religious Studies major who is also attracted to Madeleine but whose reticence she finds both disturbing and incomprehensible. On graduation day, Leonard has a breakdown and is hospitalized in a mental-health ward, and Madeleine shows her commitment by skipping the festivities and seeking him out. After graduation, Leonard and Madeleine live together when Leonard gets an internship at a biology lab on Cape Cod, and the spring after graduation they marry, when Leonard is able to get his mood swings under temporary control. Meanwhile Mitchell, who takes his major seriously, travels to India seeking a path--and briefly finds one when he volunteers to work with the dying in Calcutta. But Mitchell's road to self-discovery eventually returns him to the States--and opens another opportunity for love that complicates Madeleine's life. Dazzling work--Eugenides continues to show that he is one of the finest of contemporary novelists. Kirkus (starred review)
  • The way of true love never works out, except at the end of an English novel.' So says Trollope in Barchester Towers, one of those English novels where ‘the marriage plot' thrived until it was swept aside by 20th-century reality. Now Roland Barthes's contention that ‘the lover's discourse is today of an extreme solitude' better sums up the situation. Or so English literature–besotted Madeleine, 1980s Brown graduating senior, comes to discover. Giving in to the zeitgeist, Madeleine takes a course on semiotics and meets Leonard, who's brilliant, charismatic, and unstable. They've broken up, which makes moody spiritual seeker Mitchell Grammaticus happy, since he pines for Madeleine. But on graduation day, Madeleine discovers that Leonard is in the hospital--in fact, he is a manic depressive with an on-again, off-again relationship with his medications--and leaps to his side. So begins the story of their love (but does it work out?), as Mitchell heads to Europe and beyond for his own epiphanies. VERDICT Your standard love triangle? Absolutely not. This extraordinary, liquidly written evocation of love's mad rush and inevitable failures will feed your mind as you rapidly turn the pages. Highly recommended. Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (starred review)

  • “The sound of silk drawn across fine-grain sandpaper best describes David Pittu's voice in THE MARRIAGE PLOT, by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jeffrey Eugenides...The talented Pittu rises to the occasion of this challenging work, rewarding the listener with a sense of satisfaction reserved for great works of literature. AudioFile magazine, An Earphones Award Winner

  • David Pittu brilliantly narrates this audio version of Eugenides' complex novel, whether he's rattling off quotes from Jacques Derrida and Roland Barthes or creating unique voices for the book's many characters. Among the standouts are his renditions of the slow and reflective Mitchell and Thurston, the star of the semiotics seminar who speaks in a falsely laconic and disinterested fashion to impress his classmates and professor… [Pittu] never runs out of voices for this large, global cast. The result is one of the best audiobooks of the year. Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • Make someone's holiday travels a little more enjoyable with the audio version of Jeffrey Eugenides' latest work, The Marriage Plot, a novel about 1980's college grads caught in a love triangle. Entertainment Weekly, Gift Guide
  • Pittu lends a calm – and slightly world-weary – air to this story of a romantic triangle among classic literature devotees. The Los Angeles Times
  • David Pittu did an excellent job reading the book, and I couldn't stop listening…If you want a highly charged discussion in your book club, pick this one. The Record-Courier
  • Theater actor David Pittu brings Eugenides' tale to life – you may feel like you're back in your favorite college-lit seminar Entertainment Weekly
  • [Eugenides] gives us a truly contemporary look at the vagaries of love and the need to find yourself before you can find your mate…Narrator David Pittu does a fine job delineating each character. BookPage
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A 2011 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Library Journal Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Economist Best Book for Fiction
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2011 NPR Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book for Fiction
  • A 2011 Publishers Weekly Best Book for Fiction
  • Selected for the November 2011 Indie Next List
  • A 2011 Seattle Times Best Book for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2012 Indies Choice Book Award for Fiction
  • A 2012 Audie Award Finalist
  • A 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
  • A 2011 New York Times Book Review Notable Book
  • A 2011 Salon Magazine Best Book of the Year
  • Among shortlisted titles for Audie Award Finalist, 2012
  • Among longlisted titles for Library Journal Best Books of the Year, 2011
  • Winner of Indies Choice Book Awards Winner, 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Heather McCoy | 2/10/2014

    " Honestly I just loved loved LOVED this book from start to finish. I'll admit to having a strong affection and attachment to the setting (Brown), but apart from that I love Eugenides' sens of detail. I stayed interested in the characters the entire way and felt completely fulfilled from start to finish. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sharon | 2/2/2014

    " I agree with other reviewers that this was not as good as "Middlesex," however, I still enjoyed it, perhaps because I related to the character of Madeleine. Although I didn't share her privileged upbringing, I could understand her confused ambitions, her susceptibility to Leonard, her ambiguity to Mitchell, her close yet sometimes tense relations with her family, and her literary interests. It has to be difficult to follow something as epic as "Middlesex," and this novel surely won't be every reader's taste. It's a character-driven novel, which usually means a reader has to find at least one of the main characters compelling to stay engaged. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cwelshhans | 1/15/2014

    " Some really lovely writing and some unexpected plot developments, which I found very enjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Russell Buchanan | 1/12/2014

    " I started this book off totally hooked. I could identify strongly with the characters and their post-collegiate lack of direction. As the book continued I found myself drawn more and more into Mitchell's travels, and less into the romantic struggles that made up the rest of the book. The characters were very real; in the sense that I loved them sometimes, and wanted to punch them in the face at others. I thought Leonard's character was especially well done. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mike Compton | 12/29/2013

    " No topic is too complex to be treated one dimensionally and superficially 'explored' in the Marriage Plot! Read about post-structural theory, marriage and relationships in contemporary society, and mental illness, but don't think about them too much. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Bozena | 12/24/2013

    " Middlesex was much better. The author spent too much time talking about literature and philosophy and not enough time on the story. Disappointing! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Terrylee | 12/19/2013

    " This would have been a great series of short stories. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sally | 12/13/2013

    " Three and a half to four. Think it was over-hyped for me. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mandi | 12/10/2013

    " Ehhh. If Middlesex is an A plus plus plus, this one barely gets a C plus. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leeann | 12/3/2013

    " Wonderful! Read Middlesex last year, and couldn't wait to get my hands on this one. It did not disappoint. Clever, well written and engaging from start to end. Don't want to give more away than the title itself does. Recommended! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Ann | 11/25/2013

    " This book made me feel stupid. The author kept making references to things that I had no idea what he was talking about. Oh well. Why would I want to google everything, or look in the dictionary every five minutes? Not enjoyable to me. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Pamela | 11/17/2013

    " I'm still digesting this book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 alicia | 6/18/2013

    " The ending redeemed this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Natalierose | 4/17/2013

    " Lame Plot. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 4/3/2013

    " I loved his other books but this one was disappointing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Els | 11/12/2012

    " I did like this book - it just is not a book that I will remember later. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Meri | 9/17/2012

    " just remembered why I loved The Virgin Suicides when I read it in high school! (before that movie ruined my idea of it). Although I'd love to see a movie of this one! Interesting picture of mental illness, post-grad life, what it means to love, marriage, etc. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Claralouiseshaw | 6/24/2012

    " This is a beautifully written book, and I loved the comparison to marriage plots in Jane Austen novels throughout. Also, Eugenides describes English majors just how I thought they were, but I guess we could both be wrong... Lovely, but emotionally complicated story. Good ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sean Kennedy | 5/17/2012

    " So much to admire, and so much to dislike about this book. A real mixed bag, and one I don't think I can make myself clear about what worked and what didn't. The ending saved it, however. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Gráinne | 5/4/2012

    " Very disappointing!! I got very bored but struggled through to the end of the 406 pages. Having read Middlesex previously I expected a much higher standard. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brenda | 11/8/2011

    " This is a fascinating read. So many questions for Book Clubs to take on.
    It is my idea of what a novel should be. The sort of thing you think about, days after you finished. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Denise | 11/8/2011

    " I planned on really liking this book; probably placing too much emphasis on much I liked 'Middlesex.'
    Unfortunately I didn't get into it at all. I could recognize the perfect prose and writing style, but could not really engage in the story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chee Chee | 11/7/2011

    " It's no Middlesex, but still a solid holiday read - even if it did get a bit scattered towards the end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marilyn | 11/7/2011

    " Another great book by Eugenides. As flawed as they are, you have to love the characters and the struggles that constantly dodge them in their endeavors. All three main characters are their own worst enemy. Is there a happy ending? Who knows! "

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About the Author
Author Jeffrey Eugenides

Jeffrey Eugenides received the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for his novel Middlesex, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and France’s Prix Médicis was also selected for Oprah’s Book Club. The Marriage Plot was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won both the Prix Fitzgerald and the Madame Figaro Literary Prize. The Virgin Suicides was adapted into a critically-acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola. He is a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton.

About the Narrator

David Pittu, a two-time Tony Award nominee, has narrated dozens of audiobooks, including Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, which earned two prestigious Audie Awards for best narration. He has also won three Earphones Awards. Well-known for his work in theater, he has appeared off-Broadway in LoveMusik and Is He Dead, for which he received his Tony nominations, as well as Parade, for which he earned a National Broadway Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He is also a writer, member, and director of the Atlantic Theater company.