“In the days when success in life had depended on marriage, and marriage had depended on money, novelists had had a subject to write about. The great epics sang of war, the novel of marriage.” – The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides.
A lot is radical about the marriage plot, a concept which arose in the late 18th and early 19th century from authors like Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. These authors seized their place in literature and wrote stories centered around the lives and loves of the middle class rather than the aristocracy. These novels showed female characters thinking and feeling deeply.
While The Marriage Plot takes a very meta-approach to romance, offering a near-graduate level survey of literary criticism, religious studies, and psychology, at its heart is a love triangle. Madeline, Leonard, and Mitchell are all students at Brown in the early eighties. Mitchell loves Madeline, who loves Leonard. Swathed in their religious (Mitchell), literary (Madeline), and scientific (Leonard) learning, each yearns for the oldest trope in the world; true love.
Want more romance reads? Get the best love and romance novel recommendations, handpicked by our experienced editor, straight to your inbox each week. Sign up for little infinite’s Romance Newsletter, here.