Phillips, Marie 1976-
Phillips, Marie 1976-
Born April 22, 1976, in London, England; daughter of a judge.
Home—London, England. Agent—David Goodwin Associates, 55 Monmouth St., London WCH2 9DG, England.
Writer. Worked variously as a researcher in the television industry and in independent bookshops.
Gods Behaving Badly (novel), Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2007.
Author of the Woman Who Talked Too Much blog.
Born in London, England, on April 22, 1976, Marie Phillips has lived in the city ever since. After studying social anthropology and documentary-making, she began working in the television industry as a researcher. She later left that field to begin writing her first novel. She supplemented her income by working at independent bookshops, later stopping to write full time after the initial success she enjoyed with her writing. Additionally, Phillips is the author of the Woman Who Talked Too Much Web log.
Phillips published her first novel, Gods Behaving Badly, in 2007. The novel takes the Greek gods of ancient mythology and places them as participants in modern London society, living together in a house in North London. The gods maintain their mischievous behavior and powers but are bored with immortal life. When Alice, their housekeeper, is sent to Hades, her love, Neil, accompanies Artemis to get her back.
Lisa Gee, reviewing the book in the London Independent, noted that "it is all very, very funny and, although the admin areas of this Underworld have a faint whiff of Will Self's Dulston, delightfully original as well as acutely clever in a makes-you-think-about-contemporary-morality-without-realising kind of way." Gee called the novel "a joyful frolic," adding that it will "make you laugh and give you a nice warm fuzzy feeling." A contributor to Mostly Fiction opined that "considering the book from a critical standpoint, Phillips proffers an intriguing what-if to readers in this, her first novel. Her follow-through doesn't quite do the idea justice however," adding that it "is a promising novel that deserves more vitality and immediacy from the writing." The contributor concluded that "Gods Behaving Badly is an imperfect but entertaining diversion for those seeking a light (and a bit smutty) fantasy read."
Catherine Taylor, reviewing the novel in the London Guardian, noted that although the storylines between the human characters "appear sentimentally trite, the spoilt-brat antics of their other-worldly counterparts are vastly entertaining." Francesca Segal, writing in the London Observer, said that "it is a significant challenge for a novel to live up to a clever concept, even more so when the novelist in question has been feted for months as the Next Big Thing…. But in the case of Marie Phillips, it is deserving of the hype. She has done a spectacular job—funny and unpretentious, witty and readable, Gods Behaving Badly lives up to all its potential." Janelle Martin, writing for Gather.com remarked that "Phillips' first novel has an intriguing premise," adding that "there is much humour and irony to be found here." The same contributor noted, however, that the human characters "fall flat amidst the hyperbole that infuses the gods' characters."
Irene Wanner, reviewing the book in the San Francisco Chronicle, observed: "By turns poignant and zany, Gods Behaving Badly hums along, ever more over the top and a hoot to boot. To give more away would spoil the surprises for readers. Suffice it to say, while a few slivers of seriousness prick the story's skin, primarily, the title says it all." In a London Times article, Nick Rennison commented that "Phillips's whimsical fantasy has much charm but little bite. If anything, her gods just don't behave badly enough." Bettany Hughes, also reviewing the book in another London Times review, recalled that in the novel, "mothers fruitlessly try to scoop up their children in formless arms. The fixtures and fittings of Hades are created only by the driven imaginations of the dead. What a desperate and wonderful thought—one of the many moments where this book charms and provokes in a paragraph." Hughes mused that the author must have "a bottle on her desk."
A contributor to Publishers Weekly concluded: "Fanciful, humorous, and charming, this satire is as sweet as nectar," adding that it is a "delightful debut" by the author. Jennifer Reese, writing in Entertainment Weekly, said that in this "amusing" debut novel, "Phillips' writing is fizzy, her premise clever." Irene Watson, writing in the Midwest Book Review, said that the novel's story line "is hideous at times, yet humorous and naughty, and certainly gives a satirical look at the Greek gods." Watson opined that the author "does a good job of painting the gods" of the Greek pantheon as if they were still active in modern times. A contributor to Maclean's argued that "it doesn't matter how quirky the premise of your first novel is." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews like-mindedly remarked that "Phillips nimbly creates a present-day alternative universe" in this "disarmingly matter-of-fact farce." The same critic summarized that the novel is "not for the pious, but lots of fun for everyone else."
Teresa Mendez, reviewing the book in the Christian Science Monitor, concluded that "Phillips's novel is at once a witty, effervescent romantic comedy and an irreverent primer on Greek mythology." Jennifer Berger, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, commented that "perhaps the most heroic feat in this novel of despicable gods and timid mortals is how Phillips manages to manipulate the reader into actually liking her characters. Conflict arises not between right and wrong, weak and powerful, but between believers and nonbelievers. Ultimately, what saves the day is faith." The same contributor called the novel "trashy," but added that it "is at least winningly unpretentious."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Christian Science Monitor, February 15, 2008, Teresa Mendez, review of Gods Behaving Badly, p. 14.
Entertainment Weekly, December 7, 2007, Jennifer Reese, review of Gods Behaving Badly, p. 81.
Guardian (London, England), August 4, 2007, Catherine Taylor, review of Gods Behaving Badly.
Independent (London, England), July 20, 2007, Lisa Gee, review of Gods Behaving Badly.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2007, review of review of Gods Behaving Badly.
Library Journal, October 1, 2007, Joanna M. Burkhardt, review of Gods Behaving Badly, p. 64.
Maclean's, January 14, 2008, review of Gods Behaving Badly, p. 71.
Midwest Book Review, January, 2008, Irene Watson, review of Gods Behaving Badly.
New York Times Book Review, January 13, 2008, Alexandra Jacobs, review of Gods Behaving Badly, p. 34.
Observer (London, England), July 29, 2007, Francesca Segal, review of Gods Behaving Badly.
Philadelphia Inquirer, February 6, 2008, Jennifer Berger, review of Gods Behaving Badly.
Publishers Weekly, August 27, 2007, review of Gods Behaving Badly, p. 58.
San Francisco Chronicle, December 16, 2007, Irene Wanner, review of Gods Behaving Badly, p. M3.
Times (London, England), July 21, 2007, Bettany Hughes, review of Gods Behaving Badly; August 26, 2007, Nick Rennison, review of Gods Behaving Badly.
USA Today, December 20, 2007, David Daley, review of Gods Behaving Badly, p. 6.
Washington Post Book World, December 16, 2007, Ron Charles, review of Gods Behaving Badly, p. 7.
Gather.com,http://www.gather.com/ (December 29, 2007), Janelle Martin, review of Gods Behaving Badly.
Marie Phillips Home Page,http://www.mariephillips.co.uk (April 21, 2008), author biography.
Mostly Fiction,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (April 21, 2008), review of Gods Behaving Badly.