Return of the Native & The Marriage Plot

Book Pairing

The Return of the Native    The Marriage Plot

Who could imagine that these two books (published 133 years apart) would ever have anything in common?  Time frame and setting are certianly different from one another and so is the plot.  The thread that does hold them together, though, is the theme of marriage: how marriage can be overrated, how there may sometimes be love triangles and how things don’t always end up happy.  In the first story, which is a classic, Eustacia Vye struggles to be content in her marriage to Clym Yeobright and tries to find a way of escaping her simplistic life.  In the second novel, a love triangle ensues when Madeleine Hanna falls for an unlikely partner who has chronic depression, while also dealing with another guy who is smitten with her and believes they are meant to be.  I read both titles a few years ago but they stuck with me.  I loved Hardy’s work and found Eugenides’ book interesting, especially since he seems to look at marriage as a type of formula that can either be perfect or not work at all.  I cannot remember the exact outcome of the first novel, but I do know it was quite sombre.  The second story does have a serious tone but the characters seem to come out alright in the end.

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