To compare this to Middlesex is a mistake-akin to comparing grand opera to an intimate chamber piece. This book succeeds because it takes the structure and theme of a nineteenth century novel and turns them upside down. The love triangle which drives the plot reminds me of the Freudian view of self.
At its core is Madeleine(ego), who has spent her time consuming stories about love without absorbing their lessons about life. She falls hard for Leonard (id) and enters into a permanent relationship with him despite strong objections from her WASP parents and a nagging doubt about his sanity. Mitchell (super ego) thinks that only he understands-and deserves-Maddy even though he has never attained the status of boyfriend to her.
These three travel the world and try to sort out how they feel about each other and, more significantly, themselves. It is a funny-and sad-comedy of manners for the twenty-first century. Henry James would approve.