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.