I think it is because I read Middlesex and The Corrections back to back, but I always couple Eugenides and Franzen in my head. I did like Corrections better than Middlesex (although both were very good), but it turns out I enjoyed The Marriage Plot more than Freedom. Although, there are a lot of similiarities. The first third of this book really reminded me a lot of Freedom. Patty is about a half of a generation older than Madeline, but they both struggle with feminism and wifehood. Patty reluctantly settles for the "safe" husband in Walter, but still has her affair later with Richard. Of course Madeline opts for the "wild" choice with Leonard, but certainly learns her lesson the hard way.
Certainly the book is called the Marriage Plot and relates itself to the Victorian novels throughout; I was quite relieved that Eugenides pulled a twist when Mitchell "grows some" at the end and decides that maybe both he and Madeline are better off remaining friends and proposing an ending in which there is not another marriage. Yes, yes, Eugenides is not very original here in his "escape" but at least he was not so unoriginal as to follow the predicted plot line.
Overall it was not a new novel. The ending was "new" but there wasn't much here that didn't remind me of lots of other books. Commentary on love...you want what you most can't have; commentary on relationships...the one who is most needed is of course the one who is least attached; commentary on feminism...women feel the need to be loved/in a relationship but also want to be intelligent career oriented people on their own. I just didn't find much here that spoke to me in a new and interesting way.
I had been looking much forward to this book and it was a good read (obviously I gave it 4 stars), but I expected Eugenides to do better.