October 1st – The Daylight Marriage

It’s October, and in a month where black cats and ghosts reign supreme, we’re going to talk about A Daylight Marriage, by Heidi Pitlor. This slim, psychological thriller left me physically uncomfortable, squirming in my seat and looking for a fast exit. It’s a little like being stuck in an awkward conversation with a person you’ve actively been avoiding, with no obvious escape. I’ll be honest – I don’t know if I liked it but I couldn’t put it down, that’s for sure.

Hannah, an upper class beauty, marries Lovell, a geeky introverted scientist. They move to the Boston suburbs, have two kids and soon their marriage is on the rocks. She’s lonely and unfulfilled and he hides in his work, paying scant attention to his wife and children. We’ve seen this before but what Pitlor does with it is utterly original.

After a particularly bad argument, Hannah disappears and Lovell is forced to recount the details of their marriage through the hazy gauze of memory as he searches for an explanation. Pitlor contrasts Lovell’s process with Hannah’s movements on the day of her disappearance. I read this book while working on a novella, part of a holiday collection coming soon, that also considers how our most seemingly insignificant choices can have enormous power. Pitlor illustrates this beautifully and chillingly. Of course, a person can get stuck in this idea at which point even a task as simple as feeding the cat causes paralysis.

The mystery of the missing Hannah coupled with the exploration of a dark and tumultuous marriage make this quick read a pulse racer. By the end you know what’s coming but that doesn’t mean you want to look.

Sticking to the Halloween theme, I just started a reread of Stephen King’s Firestarter, first published in 1980. Still terrifying. In case you were wondering.

What’s your favorite scary book? Let me know!

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