The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ 'The Daylight Marriage'

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ 'The Daylight Marriage'

Hardcover Honey Jocelyn's Book of the Week

The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor

With a cover that looks like standard chicklit but features a prominent blurb from Stephen King, The Daylight Marriage had me intrigued from the get-go. It has been on my to-read list for a while and when I won it as a giveaway book from Goodreads and had an afternoon-free appointment (a luxury and one I don’t take lightly!), the fates aligned.

The cover doesn’t lie – this is the story of a marriage more or less – but wasn’t Gone Girl too? Like that book before it, The Daylight Marriage features alternating narrators, and unreliable ones at that. Weather scientist (a more technical title was surely given but you get the drift – haha) Lovell Hall lives a standard life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with his wife Hannah, and their two kids, newly rebellious 15-year-old Janine and sweeter 8-year-old Ethan.  

Much is made of the fact that Hannah is something of a stunner. So it seems to be sort of a Beauty and the Geek situation – ok, not unusual. By all accounts, things seem to be fine, but Hannah’s dissatisfaction with her career choices and Lovell’s total absorption in his career are marital potholes they must carefully steer around. It was easier when Hannah’s parents had money and could help, but they have fallen upon hard times and the checks have stopped coming. Hannah works part-time at a florist and seems to resent any suggestion that she could be doing more to help the family financially.

So we meet this couple on a typical night, with Hannah feeling antsy and Lovell impatient, with dinner behind them and those end-of-the-night discussions that are never beneficial to a marriage – full of “You always…” and “I never…” that all good therapists will tell you to avoid. Unfortunately this argument escalates to a new pitch, shoes are thrown, perfume bottles broken, fists balled, doors slammed. And that would probably have all been find, except that the next morning, Hannah disappears.

Author Heidi Pitlor
And here the book does shift into a sort of Gone Girl territory, with competing chapters detailing Hannah’s path and Lovell’s desire to bring her home. News vans gather, as they do, suspicion clouds Lovell, as it does, and the kids are a mess. Janine shaves her head and announces her intention to serve as a surrogate for a set of friendly gay neighbors. Ethan starts sleepwalking and stuttering again. Lovell tries to intuit where Hannah might have gone, even traveling to LA to visit an old fiancĂ© of hers, to no avail.

….And that’s about it. Lovell pines, Hannah ennuis, and closer and closer we draw to the inevitable end.  A bracelet is found on a beach near South Boston, and then a bone washes up – is it Hannah’s? Well, it seems the labs are swamped and it may be a month before anyone can tell Lovell definitively. His dread and fear grows along with ours as Hannah’s chapters detail her meeting with a mysterious stranger and her desire to re-capture the possibilities of her lost youth. And honestly, what 40-something mom DOESN’T feel like that? If you don’t think your Hardcover Honey occasionally fantasizes about running off and leaving it all behind, or spending the day making out with some random, well then you don’t know her very well.

The sense of dread that hangs over this book is enough for me to recommend it – if you’re a long-term married, you will see enough of yourself in this story to give you a chill – and if not, it’s still worth a read as a cautionary tale about marrying for the wrong reasons… or giving rides to strangers so you can feel pretty again.  

Hardcover Honey verdict – 4 out of 5 femurs