The novel "Bad Marie" had gotten its hooks into me way before I ever read it. Just about every blogger I follow had been reviewing it when it was first published a couple of years ago. I'd heard Marie compared to Lisbeth Salander, and much was said about her badass personality that you couldn't help but admire. So I had to laugh at myself when one night I even had a dream about Bad Marie (she came up to me in a bookstore and bullied me). It was kind of a foregone conclusion, then, when it was part of a 99 cents sale on Kindle awhile back and I snatched it.
I hadn't really had the book on my priority list, but I found myself one Sunday at the dreaded Florida Mall with my daughter, and I was sitting in my own little eternal hell of waiting outside the dressing rooms without a book. So voila. I pull Marie up on my Kindle app on my phone and I was instantly transported to her messed up life (which was way worse than the dressing room and made me feel better).
Synopsis: Marie fully understands that she is bad. Sometimes she drinks while she is acting as live-in nanny for the daughter of her childhood friend Ellen. One time she even passed out while in the tub with the little girl. And she can't help that she wants to sleep with Ellen's husband Benoit Doniel - he is the famous French author of her all-time favorite book that she read over and over again while she was in prison. Ellen isn't that great of a friend anyway...she always treated Marie like a charity case in high school because of Marie's dubious upbringing.
But when Marie actually skips town with the esteemed husband and daughter, maybe to even claim a little happiness of her own, she knows she has crossed the line. How wonderful of a fantasy, though, to hide in a small villa in rural France with the man and little girl who she adores? Except that the fantasy turns sour before her feet touch French soil. Marie discovers her author is really an irresponsible, narcissistic, playboy jerk. And caring for a 2 1/2 year old is a lot of responsibility. How is Marie going to get out of this one without landing herself back in the slammer?
My thoughts: So how does one classify such a novel? A dark comedy? A character study? A cautionary tale? Probably all three.
Marie does have a bit of Lisbeth in her. She is alluring in a dangerous way, she is damaged, and has been taken advantage of her entire life. She is completely, apologetically self-absorbed. She is a survivor. But unlike Lisbeth, Marie has a grounded, cautious optimism that someday things are going to turn for her. If things DON'T go her way, she shrugs her shoulders and carries on. Maybe tomorrow will be better. She was really a deplorable human being, but I still liked her. Her persona was the best part of the book.
The plot took some crazy turns. I literally had no idea what to expect from one moment to the next while Marie was busy having her adventure. At some point, I might imagine some readers might throw their hands in the air and exclaim "enough already".
The prose was a bit on the abrupt, simplistic side, but the pace of the storytelling carried me along in its current. Given the right circumstances, I could see this being a one-sitting read (perfect for a readathon). A classic this is not, but it made for an entertaining day at the mall.
3.5 out of 5 stars