If you’d like to participate, grab a book you’re reading (or about to read); excerpt your opening lines and a snippet from p. 56. Then click over to the host pages and leave your link.
Today I’m spotlighting a book I’ve been excited about for awhile. The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides, is a tale of post-college life in the 1980s—and a romantic triangle.
As Madeleine tries to understand why “it became laughable to read writers like Cheever and Updike, who wrote about the suburbia Madeleine and most of her friends had grown up in, in favor of reading the Marquis de Sade, who wrote about deflowering virgins in eighteenth-century France,” real life, in the form of two very different guys, intervenes. Leonard Bankhead—charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Portland boy—suddenly turns up in a semiotics seminar, and soon Madeleine finds herself in a highly charged erotic and intellectual relationship with him. At the same time, her old “friend” Mitchell Grammaticus—who’s been reading Christian mysticism and generally acting strange—resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.
Over the next year, as the members of the triangle in this amazing, spellbinding novel graduate from college and enter the real world, events force them to reevaluate everything they learned in school. Leonard and Madeleine move to a biology Laboratory on Cape Cod, but can’t escape the secret responsible for Leonard’s seemingly inexhaustible energy and plunging moods. And Mitchell, traveling around the world to get Madeleine out of his mind, finds himself face-to-face with ultimate questions about the meaning of life, the existence of God, and the true nature of love.
Beginning: To start with, look at all the books. There were her Edith Wharton novels, arranged not by title but date of publication; there was the complete Modern Library set of Henry James, a gift from her father on her twenty-first birthday; there were the dog-eared paperbacks assigned in her college courses, a lot of Dickens, a smidgen of Trollope, along with good helpings of Austen, George Eliot, and the redoubtable Bronte sisters.
Hmm…perusing other people’s bookshelves is one of my favorite things. I like how we get to see this character’s book love right away. It sets the tone.
P. 56: The next night, Saturday, the fickle weather turned cold again. Madeleine was chilled in her brown suede jacket as she walked to the restaurant where they’d agreed to meet. Afterward, they made their way to the Cable Car and found a sagging couch among the other mismatched sofas and armchairs that furnished the art-house cinema.
I’m hoping to immerse myself in this one by Sunday. What opening lines and excerpts are teasing you today? Come on by and share some tidbits.