As I promised said threatened said, when I was in the hospital the most awesome thing about it was the library of books left behind. And I chose the crappiest looking book I could find for my enjoyment and it was this one: Marielle by Janine Aurélie Dutour. The book is so widely successful and famous that the only Google hit I get for it is for somebody on ebay Austria who’s trying to sell it for the second time. Zero bids so far.
Marielle is the daughter of an apothecary in Orleans. She just came back from the covent where she was raised and enjoys her father’s company. But then the Duke who is the “owner” of the village strikes a deal with King Charles IX: The King will leave the Huguenots in that region alone and for that he’ll get the prettiest girl in the whole village for a night so he finally won’t be a virgin anymore. As you may have guessed, that girl is Marielle and she’s so pretty that the King doesn’t want to give her up anymore and takes her with him to Paris.
Oh brother… this book was bad. And when I say bad, I mean worse. Not only is it badly written – I mean, that was to be expected – but the story… oh my fucking goodness…
I don’t know what happened here. At first I thought that the author just stuck too much to the facts to be able to fabricate a good story. But from the little that’s on wikipedia, she was pretty liberal with them anyway. [For example, she never mentions anything about the kids Marie had, Marie has to marry a gay guy who then dies (but before that he promptly falls in love with her, of course, because she is so beautiful and innocent and good) when Charles gets married in the book, according to wikipedia she only ever married after Charles was dead and then she had two kids with the new guy etc.]
So, if we’re talking historical accuracy, then this book fails quite a bit. But why sacrifice historical accuracy if you don’t do it to get a better story? Because, for fuck’s sake, Marie gets sold to Charles, then kidnapped and locked up by him, then has to endure his continuing inexplicable rages and bouts of jealousy, is almost assassinated because of him, gets raped and victim-blamed, is treated like a commodity and then pretty much sold by Charles to keep up appearances. And through all that, Marielle is so in love with him because… just because. If this had been the story of a girl who uses everything she got at her diposition to move up in the world and if that means sleeping with the king even though he’s an ugly bastard, so be it, it would have been quite an awesome book. [Well, maybe.]
The whole thing might have something to do with that that there probably never was a more passive heroine than Marielle. [Seriously, compared to Marielle, Bella Swan is a fucking energy bunny.] And if she’s told to love someone, she does.
As frustrating as all of this is, the language was even worse. In the book’s defence, it was written and translated in 70s, so a lot of it is quite dated and bad prose grows older much faster than good prose. Anyway, you can not believe how many people are “gramgebeugt” (which means “bent with grief”). And After the tenth time she mentioned that Marielle was blond and that her hair was beautiful and that it cascaded down her shoulders I stopped counting but trust me, I hadn’t even reached page 100 yet…
And all of this is not even taking into the account the ending, which was not an ending at all. The book just… stopped.
I only finished this book because it had a weird kind of fascination… like a piece of roadkill: It’s kind of disgusting but you still consider going over there and prodding it with a stick.
[If there was an English version of it, I probably would have posted excerpts but translating it seemed too much work in the hospital and now I don’t have the book anymore. Maybe I’ll make a bid on ebay…]