Ed Wood 14 December 2011 - 3:49pm
The We Love This Book team chooses its books of the year for 2011
Much is made of the tag ‘Great American Novel’; in the past decade, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections has been the most obvious new holder of the accolade, revealing (as does his more recent book Freedom) the lives of middle-class, suburban families full of loathing and conflicted desires, as did those of the Johns Updike, Irving and Cheever.
But Eugenides has perhaps taken the more interesting route with his three novels, and while The Marriage Plot may at first seem more conventional than The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex – unhappy student-then-graduate Madeleine must choose between the attentions of sensible, spiritual Mitchell or emotionally erratic scientist Leonard – his meticulousness and the depth of his thinking take this to another level. And for a book full of unabashed intellectualism, it has a sublimely simple, satisfying ending too.