Looking for love, by the book

"The Marriage Plot" by Jeffrey Eugenides, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 406 pages, $28.

Jeffrey Eugenides won the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 for his novel "Middlesex."

In "The Marriage Plot," Madeleine Hanna, an English literature major at Brown University, is writing an English honors thesis about a marriage "plot" as in the traditional mating dance as performed in novels.

She has just broken up with Leonard Bankhead. Another friend, Mitchell Grammaticus, is secretly in love with Madeleine and is convinced that they will marry. Madeleine wants to get back together with Leonard. She doesn't realize that he has been diagnosed as manic-depressive. Despite all that, the characters aren't really very interesting.

This novel occupies the safe middle ground. Eugenides has a way of belaboring the points and the novel becomes exhausting. Unfortunately, "The Marriage Plot" is no "Middlesex."

***

"Proof of Heaven" by Mary Curran Hackett, William Morrow, 297 pages, $14.99.

Colm Magee's heart stopped seven times before his 7th birthday. Catherine, his mother, is single. She keeps trying to find out the cause. Finally cardiologist Dr. Gaspar Basu gives them the bad news: He has a rare disease that is terminal. Colm wants to find his father because someone has to take care of his mother when he dies.

While the initial premise is good, "Proof of Heaven" is preachy. Colm, who is 5 when the novel begins, talks like an adult. It is muddled and uninspiring and has an odd ending.

Advertisement