Michelle's Reviews > Maggie Now

Maggie Now by Betty  Smith
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Nov 17, 09

bookshelves: american
Read in November, 2009

It was hard to love a novel when you couldn't care less about the protagonist. And in this novel, there just wasn't a whole lot there - Maggie-Now is the proverbial doormat, and knowing she enjoys being the doormat doesn't really make her any more compelling. She puts up with a husband who won't tell her who he is, where he came from, where he works, or where he goes when he disappears for 3/4's of the year, and we're supposed to believe that the freshness of the sex when he returns is enough to make up for everything else. I'm not buying it - I don't care how giving and shallow Maggie-Now was supposed to be. Throughout her novels, Smith tells us again and again that you will never regret marrying (or even just sleeping with) the man you're passionate about, but it never seems to work out all that well for the women who take her advice, does it?

A previous reviewer mentioned that the novel lacks cohesion, and that was really just as bothersome as the vapid main character. It wanders first through Pat's life, then Mary's, then inexplicitly dwells on Maggie Now's for the rest of the novel. The fact that Pat is still there, but fades into the background, only to be used for narrative tension and commedic effect when needed, makes the wandering that much more disconcerting. I suppose parallels could be drawn between Claude, the wandering husband, and Betty Smith, the wandering writer, but I really just don't care enough about any of them to go down that road.

But here's what saves the novel from less stars in my book; the last chapter, and especially the last two pages, represent one of the best book endings I have ever read. The scene is vivid, the characters are alive, and for the first time in the book, I was wishing for more. Absolutely brilliant! If only it had followed a more compelling story...
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