Twenty-seven-year-old Libby Mason is determined that a recent “fling” with novelist Nick will stay just that — a fling. She’s not serious about him, she says, and though they have a great time spending time together, he’s not exactly husband material. And what Libby wants, more than anything, is a husband.
So when she and Nick inevitably part ways, Libby’s slightly distraught — until Ed McMann (McMann, that is, not McMahon!) arrives on the scene. Ed is just another awkward British guy chatting her up until she learns, from a friend, about Mr. McMann’s padded checkbook. The guy is rich — like, seriously loaded. Memories of Nick’s disgusting flat fade into oblivion the first time Libby walks into Ed’s posh London home, and as Ed begins his swift courtship of Libby, she finds herself falling more and more in love . . . with his dough.
Because Ed is annoying. He’s embarrassing. He has a terrible mustache that Libby’s best friend Jules finds particularly hideous (and as a reader, I wasn’t really feeling it, either). For as successful he is in the banking field, Ed might as well walk around with “AWKWARD” stamped on his forehead — the exact opposite of level-headed, sexy and charismatic Nick, who Libby is now steadfastly not speaking to.
Jane Green’s Mr. Maybe is basically an exercise in how far can Libby seriously take this whole “relationship” before calling uncle? Seriously, it was kind of like watching a slow-motion train derailment. I couldn’t believe Libby would even entertain the thought of being with someone like boring, pedantic and clingy Ed — and neither could anyone else in her life, save her mother. But somehow Libby is drawn into this world of wealth and minor fame, basking in the glow of Ed’s attention and lavish gift-giving.
But here’s the thing: I felt sick about it. All of it. Libby spends the entire novel transforming into whomever her lover wants or needs her to be — and as a character, she freely admits this. And yet she doesn’t know what to do about it. I wouldn’t say that I turn into a chameleon in relationships, as Libby does, but everyone has probably experienced that moment of nervousness about showing someone your “true colors” for the first time. Will you scare them off? Will they be appalled — or relieved? Will they still love and accept you?
And Libby never gets to this point with Ed . . . because she never wants to open up. And Ed doesn’t ask her to be anything other than a pretty face. She knows from the get-go he’s not the guy for her, and yet Libby entertains his advances and moves way too fast with him just to — what? Get back at Nick? Not have to suffer another night in, alone?
Very little of Mr. Maybe sat right with me. Despite the fact that we’re to believe Libby is an empowered PR representative who hob-knobs with celebrities, has tons of friends and many contacts in the media world, she comes across as weak, shallow and, frankly, uninteresting. Her banter with Nick is believable and fresh, but the entire mess with Ed felt sticky and terrible. As she let things drag on and on, I kind of . . . started to hate her.
Maybe I related too much to the whole “single girl” on the town — and felt a little irked that for Libby, having a night by herself to watch TV and eat Chinese was like a fate worse than death. Um, personally, I call that Tuesday. Should I down a bottle of poison now or wait until after I’ve watched three back-to-back episodes of “Gossip Girl,” Libby?
Of course, our narrator eventually changes her tune on that front — and has undergone quite a transformation by the end of the novel. And I could appreciate that she’d changed. In fact, she became quite self-aware at the conclusion of the novel . . . and I genuinely believed she’d become a better — and bigger — person. But getting to that point? Unpleasant.
I love Jane Green’s narrative style (and her awesome blog!) and know that few readers chatting about the heavyweights of the “chick lit” world could fail to mention her work, so I’m definitely going to return to her soon — perhaps with The Beach House or Bookends. But until then? Pass on this one.
2.5 out of 5!