The external lives of Clark, a high school guidance counselor, and Charlotte, a bookkeeper, are utterly ordinary, but their interior lives are as bold and complex as abstract paintings colored by imagined possibilities, childhood joys and, more darkly, by deeply buried fears. When Clark rescues a young boy from drowning, a chain of events-some comic, some harrowing-is set in motion, revealing the fault lines of the couple's marriage and individual psyches.
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 ... 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.
Love, marriage, the whole damn thing—all spanned in a witty, tender first novel ... Gaige’s beguilingly offbeat voice and appealing mix of humor and insight offer continual pleasures, and her story, woven together with that of the house, reaches high. Each chapter follows the discrete shape of a short story while also building on the troubling notion that there are indeed ghosts abroad ... Conventional action is relatively minor ... But the shifts in mood and the variations in the couple’s power balance are just as telling ... In the final pages, Gaige’s usually unerring if unpredictable sense of narrative true north wavers, and chapters become ragged. Despite a final soft-centered swerve, however, the impression overall is of a limpid style and the peeling away of the comedy of intimacy to expose isolated souls.
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 ... Dead-on dialogue...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 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.