The Daylight Marriage
Heidi Pitlor
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Buy *The Daylight Marriage* by Heidi Pitloronline

The Daylight Marriage
Heidi Pitlor
Algonquin Books
256 pages
May 2015
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on The Daylight Marriage.

Hannah and Lovell Hall are caught up in the intricacies of their own problems, too often oblivious to parental roles and their childrenís proximity when engaged in heated argument. A climate scientist, Lovell is well-intentioned but under the pressure of deadlines, emotionally absent, and too easily distracted by the work that he loves to join Hannah in the day-to-day necessities of caring for almost-fifteen-year-old Janine and eight-year-old Ethan. Hannah bears the curse of the beautiful woman, her plight confounded by the innate security of well-off parents until recently, the couple the beneficiaries of generous checks, only now forced to attend to the limitations of financial necessity. Each is avoiding the resentments building up, an explosive release inevitable.

The reality of financial responsibility comes late for Hannah, who has been impossibly spoiled by the ease of her life until now. She contributes to family finances with a part-time job in a flower shop, too much time on her hands, too bored with the banality of her role as wife and mother to appreciate the quality of her days. Unhappy and disappointed in the man she married, Hannah gives little thought to her actions the night after a fight with Lovell that nearly comes to blows, reeling from the cruelty of their accusations. The next day she drives from Cambridge to Boston and the beach where she became engaged to Doug, a former boyfriend.

When Hannah doesnít pick up her son from school or return home by dark, Lovell reports his wife missing, expecting her to walk in the door at any time. As days turn into weeks with no news of where Hannah might be, Janineís rebellious behavior spirals out of control. An ineffective Lovell hems and haws, trying to protect his children in the face of encroaching media and failing miserably. Lovell is a simple man caught up in a complex, unresolved situation. Guilt and fear haunt his every move, hope growing dimmer with the passage of time and private recriminations, the memories of their last argument, the things they said.

This is no replay of Gone Girl, no clever game between husband and wife, just the random decision of a married woman to play hooky, a woman so naÔve about the entitlement afforded beautiful women that she fails to consider the danger that lurks in the world. The novel might have been richer had Pitlor invested in more sympathetic characters (especially Hannah, a woman so self-centered and casually arrogant that she never considers the consequences of her actions). Lovell is just a guy out of his league who fears he has lost his wifeís affection, their children more savvy than parents who resist growing up and providing emotional security for their family. With each revelation of lives lived recklessly, of flawed character and the absence of courage, Hannah and Lovell squander opportunities as though they are self-regenerating.

To be fair, what woman hasnít considered driving away from home and responsibility, leaving the rest to work it out? Hannah has done this before. Now, her fate unknown, Lovell is left with the daily reality and children in crisis. Challenged in ways he could never have imagined, Lovell is forced to be better than his inclinations, patient in the face of his daughterís rage and obvious rebellion, to be more than a father to Ethan and Janine. There are no easy answers for an impulsive mistake. Lovell stumbles, staggering under the burden, the realization that his children desperately need him. Pitlorís selfish protagonist becomes the fulcrum for her husbandís soul-searching, the shape of his life without Hannah. The mundane and the tedious seem a little less suffocating in this cautionary tale. Tragedy arrives in a moment, courage bred from need, the future a hollow thing until a family can claim the space where one of them is missing.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2015

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