Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Bad Marie: My alterego?

Bad Marie: A Novel (P.S.)My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I had to read this book, if for no other reason than the great title. It's a classic example of a book with an unlikable main character who ends up to be almost (but not quite) sympathetic.

As the book opens, Marie is getting drunk at work, while taking care of a 2-1/2-year-old, Caitlin. She falls asleep in the bathtub with Caitlin, and the parents come home to discover her passed out, naked, in the tub. Caitlin's mother Ellen is Marie's so-called "friend," who hires her even though she has just served 6 years in jail for protecting her bank robber boyfriend. Ellen happens to be married to Benoit Doniel, the French author of Virginie at Sea, the book that was Ellen's lifeline while she was in prison.

Ellen is more than a bit naive, as she gives Marie a 1-week notice and tells her to keep her paws off her husband, even though Marie has a history of sleeping with Ellen's boyfriends. Of course, Marie initiates an affair with Benoit Doniel, as she idealizes him as a literary hero, and they end up running off to Paris, Caitlin in tow.

On the airplane to Paris and in the city itself, Marie is disillusioned to discover that Benoit is even more amoral and directionless than she is (and also without a franc to his name). Throughout it all, she is ever steadfast and committed to Caitlin, the one constant she seems to love and cherish.

Marie says what she thinks and does what she feels like, with no regard for the consequences. She's not really "bad," but possesses very little conscience. She truly does not believe there is anything wrong with taking what belongs to others, although when confronted with Benoit's dishonesty and lack of morals, she finds fault with the same weaknesses.

Dermansky is a French film fanatic, and she apparently styled this book after characters in French films. Perhaps I would have loved this book more if I were a French film fanatic myself. As it was, it was a great read for my day sick in bed!

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