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O My Darling: A Novel Hardcover – May 17, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Crystalline insights into the nature of love and flashes of narrative brilliance buoy a plot-deficient first novel about the strains of a young marriage. Clark and Charlotte have just moved into their first house, which is still inhabited by ghosts of other marriages. Isolated in their suburb, Charlotte nervously jokes, "[W]e live in a little diorama or something. Help, help! Let us out!" Clark is mourning the freedom of imagination that seems to have perished with his mother's recent suicide. Dead-on dialogue (" 'You're alive!' she cried. 'You jackass!' ") and moments of suburban absurdity (a public joyride on a lawn mower; the curious arrival of a nude travel magazine in the mailbox) impart the acute delight more often found in short stories. While the horror-story elements (disembodied voices; visible spirits) don't add up to much and the themes of apology and forgiveness don't fully edify, gorgeous snippets on love and marriage ("Marriage is the only punishment great enough to fit the crime of love") compensate. Gaige's precise wordplay, sharp dialogue and bite-sized themes might be better served in story form, but her novel often sparkles and delights. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Clark and Charlotte each bring baggage to their spur-of-the-moment marriage. Clark's mother suffered from mental illness, and his father eventually left her for his longtime mistress. Charlotte was adopted at age two, and as she moved into adulthood, she and her adoptive parents gradually drifted apart, as if they "had never technically belonged to one another." Still, all seems to go well until Clark's mother commits suicide. After the funeral, Clark takes a job as a high-school guidance counselor in a nearby town; then, after he and Charlotte move to their "dream" house, their lives suddenly take a downward spiral. Clark sees shadows (or ghosts?) and soon finds himself nearly immobilized by a vague feeling of discontent. Charlotte feels as if she has been dropped into alien territory. It's "like we live in a little diorama," she tells a neighbor. Gaige's debut, while short on plot, does provide an introspective, sometimes humorous look at how aspects from one's past can suddenly reemerge and pilot one's life in totally unexpected directions. Deborah Donovan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
I just didn't care about Charlotte or Clark Adair. Their characters felt vague like the ghosts that occasionally appear. We find out early on that she's adopted and his mother was mentally unstable. It's the only thing about their characters. I had some good writing, but, didn't capture my attention like "Schroder".
I don't think I'd recommend it... maybe I'll re-read it in a few years and feel differently.
Gaige brings us into the world of a newlywed couple, Clark and Charlotte Adair, and their constant troubles with each other, as well as themselves. As soon as the first chapter, it's clear that neither character is without flaw. "O My Darling" shows us the many downs in marriage, as well as it's best.
Rather than glamorizing "love", Gaige paints a very real picture of love that the reader is either unwilling to believe and simply ignorant to. Because the word love has been mutated and diminished by Hollywood, teenagers, etc., it was nice reading a book where the two protagonists aren't head over heels in love with each other to the point where it makes you want to vomit in disgust. Because "love" is not entirely full of "ups", Gaige displays all of the "downs" that couples can and should expect after tying the knot.
I won't spoil the whole book, but I highly recommend Amity Gaige's, "O My Darling", to any and everyone, especially those foolhardy and ignorant teenagers who seem to throw the word "love" to everyone they date.