Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky – Book Review

Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky

Marie has just spent six years in prison for running off to Mexico with her bank-robber boyfriend who killed himself while incarcerated. Now that she’s out, she has found work for her childhood friend Ellen nannying for Ellen’s two-year-old daughter, Caitlin. Ellen, coincidentally, happens to be married to Benoit Doniel, the French novelist who wrote Marie’s favorite book ever. Marie adores both Ellen’s husband and her daughter – along with many other of Ellen’s things which Marie likes to appropriate for her own use.

Until one day, when Ellen decides that she doesn’t want Marie around her house, her husband, and her child. Marie can’t imagine leaving all of these things and, even more so, can’t imagine moving back into her mother’s house. Determined not to lose the things she has grown accustomed to in Ellen’s house, Marie seduces Benoit Doniel and absconds to France with him, Caitlin, and quite a few of Ellen’s things. Life with Benoit Doniel and as a mother, though, is not quite what Marie imagined it to be.

Marie was an absolutely fascinating character. She would come up with elaborate plans without ever thinking any of it through. She was an impetuous woman without a great deal of common sense. In prison, and later in Ellen’s home, everything was provided for her, and the framework of her day was already laid out. In Paris with a toddler, Marie was unsure what to do, how to act, how to provide what Caitlin needed. Marie had the potential to be a very obnoxious character, one who you just want to smack. And that would have been a problem because, really, “Bad Marie” is all about her. However, I found her to be complex and even sympathetic – surprising for a character who kidnaps a child and takes her abroad.

If you’re interested in a book with a main character who makes every bad (and even criminal) decision possible but is still sympathetic, I would definitely recommend this book.

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This review was done with a book received from Erica at Harper Perennial.
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13 comments to Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky – Book Review

  • Ti

    I just saw a write-up of this one this morning and just now read your review. Sounds fascinating and unlike anything I’ve come across before.

  • I was afraid the Marie would be a totally obnoxious character that I would hate, so I avoided this book. It sounds like I should re-think that.

  • She got a little bit of Lisbeth in her? I suspect I wouldn’t be able to stand Lisbeth in real life, but you love her on the page. I’m all over this one. I’m off to see if zee library has it on audio.

  • She sounds like she has a bit of Scarlett O’Hara in her too… Where she tends to be rather selfish and spontaneous, but you really can’t hate her. Except I love Scarlett and don’t know if I would feel quite that strongly about Marie, since she’s far more criminal. It sounds interesting, but how could she ever convince herself that kidnapping is justified?!

    • She was basically just indignant about being told she wouldn’t get to be with Caitlin anymore and she felt that she deserved both Caitlin and Benoit more than Ellen did, appreciated them more. I also don’t think she really tried to justify it that much, really, she had a tendency to act without even thinking as far as justification.

  • This is one of Harper’s upcoming books that really interests me. I’ll definitely be looking into this one. I think is sounds really interesting.

  • This character just sounds fascinating. I’ll be picking this one up for sure.

  • I was just looking at this in the bookstore the other day. The title got me…

    I would probably feel frustrated reading this though. I tend to very quickly get annoyed with characters who don’t have solid heads on their shoulders. Unless it’s done in an endearing way – but then, you did mention you wanted to smack her at times, lol.

  • I just finished this one today. Marie is fascinating but hardly the only one deserving of blame.

  • You know I can’t wait to read this. Just got my copy over the weekend. I’m going to set up a Mr. Linking for Harper Perennial reviews in a day or so. I’ll add this post to it.

  • Amy

    What a fascinating story and character. It’s amazing that Marie doesn’t function well when her day is essentially up to her. Loved your review, Jen, you totally sold me on this book!
    I read a write-up of it in Elle magazine but they didn’t do nearly as good a job as you. So thank you!

    ~ Amy

  • Pam

    This does sound pretty awesome!