I’ve said it here before and, hell, I’m going to say it again: I love a book where all the characters are UNLIKABLE. I know for many readers, a book needs to have at least one likable character and it takes away from the book when there isn’t. This book review challenges this notion and is here to show how you can love a story but hate the characters who make it.
Who Killed Anne-Marie?* by C.M. Thompson introduces us to Daniel and Anne-Marie, a couple whose marriage is certainly on the rocks. See, Anne-Marie is an unemployed, abusive alcoholic who makes the lives of her husband and her neighbours miserable. Then, one day Anne-Marie is murdered. With so many people who hate her, just who could the murderer be?
It’s only right that we start with the characters, so let’s discuss Anne-Marie. Anne-Marie is an awful character. She is an alcoholic that abuses her husband, terrorizes her neighbours and manipulates her mother (not that she is a nice character either). Believe me when I say that you will feel no remorse when Anne-Marie dies. At the same time, I sympathize with Anne-Marie. Once the book switches to her point of view, we begin to understand, but not condone, why she is how she is. She has lost a baby. She doesn’t feel like her husband supports her. Her mother is destructive. All of a sudden, Anne-Marie becomes more realistic.
Daniel is Anne-Marie’s husband and I immediately felt sorry for him. How could I not considering what he puts up with because of Anne-Marie? However, slowly but surely, he begins to wane as a character. His addiction to food and spinelessness justs adds to the destruction of the marriage and starts to irritate.
Daniel and Anne-Marie’s neighbours are terrible too but you need to read to book to find out exactly why (it’s worth it).
I guess you are struggling to see how these horrible characters make for a good book. It’s the way the author uses them. With Anne-Marie, the reader better understands what it’s like to be an alcoholic and how it is not as black and white as we may initially think. With Daniel, it is easier to understand what it feels to live with a destructive alcoholic and the effects that it can have. This is important.
The characters are also used to facilitate a wonderfully written book concerning themes we often don’t like to think about: despair, manipulation, and how things not said can be as destructive as the things that are said. These themes are strong even when nothing bad is necessarily happening in the book. We feel them through the dreary description of the house. Through the same defeated tone that each chapter takes. And through the use of a third-person narrative that detaches us even further from the characters.
I loved this book. It’s one of the best-written books I’ve read this year. It might not originally seem like your cup of tea but I urge you to take a step outside your comfort zone and read Who Killed Anne-Marie?
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.