O My Darling

Overview

O My Darling tells the story of a devoted young couple whose marriage begins to implode when they move into their first house. 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, ...

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O My Darling: A Novel

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Overview

O My Darling tells the story of a devoted young couple whose marriage begins to implode when they move into their first house. 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.

Amity Gaige is a consummate stylist. Her every sentence contains a tiny world—marrying striking images to deep, soulful ideas in perfectly concise fashion. Her cool, slightly off-kilter sensibility expressed in spare, lucid prose will remind readers of Paula Fox (Desperate Characters), while her pure, hyper-real vision of suburban America places her among the most talented of the generation of writers dubbed "the children of Cheever."

"Given its level of sophistication and off-center wit, it's a bit startling to realize that O My Darling is Amity Gaige's first novel. The characters, beautifully drawn, are as unsentimental toward one another as their author is toward them and yet, wonderfully, this novel with its many ambushes of lyrical moments, is deeply felt."
-Stuart Dybek, author of I Sailed with Magellanand The Coast of Chicago

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Love, marriage, the whole damn thing-all spanned in a witty, tender first novel. After three years of marriage, Clark and Charlotte Adair have moved into their first home, "a normal house in a normal place," paid for by Clark's mother's bequest after she committed suicide. Although still in the delighted phase of their relationship, the two have learned enough about each other to sense limits and disappointments. Charlotte, an orphan, fears abandonment above all and wants no children. Clark, "prone to nostalgia," has been imbued with some of his paranoid mother's colorful fantasies in lieu of a truer sense of adulthood. The purchase of the yellow house in Clementine is an opportunity for the two to settle down, but what about the rumors that previous owners fled the place? And how to explain the glimpsed figures and overheard voices first noted by Clark, then Charlotte? 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-not only the seemingly ineradicable spirits at Quail Hollow Road but also the "persona" phantoms that dwell inside Clark and Charlotte. Conventional action is relatively minor: the dog escapes; Clark rescues a boy at the swimming pool and experiences a death rush of exhilaration. But the shifts in mood and the variations in the couple's power balance are just as telling. After a snowstorm, they have their biggest row, and Clark drives away. In the final pages, Gaige's usually unerring if unpredictable sense of narrativetrue 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. With a flavor of Lorrie Moore, graceful, bright, modern writing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590512302
  • Publisher: Other Press, LLC
  • Publication date: 5/16/2006
  • Pages: 248
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Amity Gaige

Amity Gaige is a graduate of Brown University and the Iowa Writer's Workshop. She is the author of the acclaimed novel O My Darling, chosen by the National Book Foundation for its "5 Under 35" program to recognize the achievements of five first-time fiction writers each year. She teaches creative writing at Mount Holyoke College and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. Visit her website at www.amitygaige.com.

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Reading Group Guide

1. What happens to Charlotte in the chapter called "Fever"? What does she learn, and how does it affect her?

2. There are many ordinary, everyday objects in the novel that take on a symbolic or metaphorical quality. Select one of the objects that stuck with you – the lawn mower, the baby pool, the birthday gift in the first chapter—and discuss what you think this object may represent or stand for in Clark and Charlotte's relationship.

3. Every commitment, especially marriage, brings with it certain fears. What fears do you believe Clark and Charlotte have about marriage? What fears of commitment have you experienced?

4. One's "first house" often remains with us long after we've moved. What do you think drew Charlotte and Clark to the yellow house? What role does it play in their marriage? What do you remember about your first house? Do you have memories of your parents or friends talking about theirs?

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