Marnie by Winston Graham

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Inspiring the Hitchcock classic, Marnie is a psychological crime novel by the author of the Poldark series, Winston Graham.

Marnie appears to be charming and efficient. A true professional. But inwardly she is unscrupulous, a rebel against society and the law.

When she starts working for a small family firm, two of the partners vie for her attentions, and as Mark Rutland, the younger partner, forces his way into Marnie’s world he becomes desperate to understand her. Why is she so cynical, so uncaring?

Why is she a thief and a liar?

Who is the real Marnie?

Mark sets a trap . . . but it is not only Marnie who is caught . . .

“People might think it lonely living on my own nearly all the time, but I never found it lonely. I always had plenty to think about, and anyway maybe I'm not so good on people.”

A fascinating psychological train-wreck. I'd seen the movie several times growing up since Alfred Hitchcock was behind the helm - and it stuck in my mind while reading the story so I can't help comparison. It followed a lot of the book faithfully, although the ending was completely different, as was her hidden trauma, and there lies some of the weakness of the story that dropped it to a four star rating over five. I'm sure I would feel the same even if I didn't see the film.

Marnie isn't exactly a likable character. She has redemption at the end but her heart of stone only thaws so much, and the author kind of abruptly cuts the story off at the end. I'd had loved to see the scene where she came back to Mark and he knew it, and to see where they went from there, and where she told him - and/or- the doctor all she'd discovered, but as a reader I kind of feel cheated of that. I only like unknowns looming ahead if it adds spice to this story, but the way the ending handled itself frustrated me.

Still the book is difficult to put down. The beginning is especially potent when Marnie is going through the motions as thieving Mary, then is discovered, then answers and fields questions from both Mark and the doctor. Mark as a character is a shining gem- the patience and tragedy of the man was maybe more depressing to me than Marnie's mental struggles.

The book is almost 400 pages, and you'd think a lot of shifting scenes may be needed to keep it interesting - but it doesn't need that for the pacing doesn't suffer. Winston Graham's writing style is perfect for this type of story and even the dialogue shifting when Marnie is regressing was well-done. It's first person POV and surprisingly well-done. I may have to hunt down more of this author's work.

It was interesting to be in the head of a thief like this too. Thieving is despicable, but there are different forms of that addictive madness so they can still be intriguing to read about. Toss in psychological horrors and hidden secrets, and it gets even better.

Even if the ending is a little frustrating, when I started it yesterday I've found it difficult to put down, the writing got to me, and the characters are well-done and absolutely different from the norm. Worth a read if you find a copy or pick up the e-book copy. And then, if you haven't already, you need to watch the movie at some point - despite some melodrama of the time, it's another unique and twisted take on the story, adding a completely different ending and color blindness being part of the psychological trauma.

   Book Quotes:

“I suspect that for a good deal of the time you live in a sort of glass case, not knowing real enthusiasm or genuine emotion; or feeling them perhaps at second hand, feeling them sometimes because you think you ought to, not because you really do.”

   Cover Gallery: