Clark and Charlotte are a young couple, both a few years shy of thirty. They rushed a bit into marriage, having dated less than two months when they tied the knot. Childless and with a few years of marriage under their belts, they buy a starter home in a northern city called Clementine. The squat yellow house is pleasant and unassuming, and it seems to be as good of a place to start as any. Clark is a guidance counselor at a local school, a position he is not particularly passionate about (he looks forward to the summers off), and Charlotte secures a job as an assistant at a negligence law firm.
Life at the yellow house on Quail Street starts off a bit rocky because of the death of Clark’s mother, a mentally ill woman who commits suicide shortly after Clark and Charlotte purchase their home. They inherit Tecumseh, Clark’s mother’s odd but loyal dog, and Clark, Charlotte, and dog settle into the starter home. Charlotte has some issues herself, an adopted child at age two who never truly bonded with her adopted parents.
At the new house, Charlotte becomes a bit more clingy – she does not like to be alone – while Clark begins to feel simultaneously expansive and immobile in the house. Clark begins hearing voices of past residents of the home, along with glimpses of a shadow and similar apparitions in the hallways. It quickly becomes clear that the couples who owned the home before Clark and Charlotte met the dubious and somehow inevitable fate of unhappy marriage. When Clark saves a schoolboy from drowning at the local pool, their marriage begins to take a sharp nosedive into oblivion.
O My Darling tends to read more like a short story although it is a full-length novel. There are elements of horror as the house seems haunted by its past residents, and although it is an interesting aspect of the plot, the ghosts of the couples past do not really lead the plot of O My Darling anywhere. However, Clark and Charlotte are interesting, well-drawn characters, and the author does an excellent job of creating the campy, somewhat absurd suburban life of the young married couple whose past seems to be creeping up with them as they begin life together in their new home.
Despite its imperfections, O My Darling manages to be entertaining and thoughtful. While it does not measure up plot-wise, the imperfect characters are interesting, and fans of contemporary fiction will most likely enjoy the campy snippets of interplay between Clark and Charlotte, as well as looming themes of love, death and family.