Eugenides’ most recent work focuses on three Brown University college graduates-Madeleine, Leonard, and Marshall. Madeleine and Leonard have a passionate relationship until three weeks before graduation when Madeleine’s profession of love is met with a sneer from Leonard. But Leonard, who suffers from manic depression, soon spirals out of control and is admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Madeleine takes it upon herself to care for Leonard over the summer into the following year but her expectations of the relationship are soon met by cold, hard reality.
Marshall has been in love with Madeleine since freshman year and they have remained casual friends since. When he meets Madeleine once again in New York just days before he leaves for his European back-packing trip, the fire is once again rekindled (for him). But Madeleine is dedicated to Leonard and Marshall is once again rebuffed.
The story follows Madeleine and Leonard’s troubled relationship and Marshall’s trip across Europe and India. Eugenides’ novel is a character-centered novel about changing direction and finding yourself.