Some books grab you right away and others slowly seduce the reader. Marcy Dermansky's novel, Bad Marie, gets you from the first sentence, "Sometimes, Marie got a little drunk at work".
Marie is a nanny to her childhood friend Ellen's two-year-old daughter Caitlin. Ellen is a high-powered, hard-charging career woman, and Marie had recently been released after six years in prison for aiding her boyfriend who robbed a bank.
Marie loves Caitlin, but when she falls asleep in the bathtub with Caitlin and Ellen and her husband come home, Marie is fired. But not before she seduces the husband, the author of a book that Marie compulsively read in prison. The book, about a suicidal teenage girl who falls in love with a sick sea lion, was a lifeline for Marie, who identified with the girl.
Dermansky has created a unique character in Marie; she is all id, with no thought to the consequences of her actions. She never thinks beyond the immediate. It's almost child-like, like Caitlin. I wanted to dislike Marie, and should have, but I found it impossible.
I couldn't believe the situations that Marie found herself in, dragging the young Caitlin in tow. This is a book that you will find yourself whipping through to find out what could possibly happen next, yet it is not a plot driven book. It is all about Marie, who is she and how she came to be that way.
Water plays a large role in the book; Marie likes to takes baths, but it seems she can never truly cleanse herself. The character in her favorite novel kills herself by walking into the sea.
Men fare poorly in this novel. Marie's bank robber boyfriend kills himself in prison; the seduced husband is a weak man, and a fraud. Even the hero movie star turns out to be a cad.
Bad Marie is a quick read; the author wastes no words, they are all deliberately chosen to excellent effect. She has said that she was heavily influenced by French films, and the reader can see that influence in this stunning novel. Marie is a role that actresses would kill to play.
Rating 4.5 of 5
Thanks to Harper Perennial for providing an ARC of this book.