“In the days when success in life had depended on marriage, and marriage had depended on money, novelists had had a subject to write about. The great epics sang of war, the novel, of marriage. Sexual equality, good for women, had been bad for the novel. And divorce had undone it completely.... As far as Saunders was concerned, marriage didn’t mean much anymore, and neither did the novel.”—The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey’s Eugenides’s highly anticipated new novel is out this week, and we asked the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides to make us a reading list of books on marriage. He sent us five titles, “the books I know best, and thought most about, while writing The Marriage Plot.”

The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Middlemarch by George Eliot

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Aspern Papers by Henry James