The Day

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Like Douglas Hobbie’s first novel, BLOOMFELL, his second, THE DAY, concerns the intricacies of the marriage of an educated, upper-middle-class couple. The main character, Jack Fletcher, is an architect married to Gwen Wells, the youngest of three sisters, the oldest of whom, Clare, has committed suicide, and the middle of whom, Penny, hosts the Wells family’s Thanksgiving dinner each year.

The most recent of these dinners is the occasion for the novel’s setting in semi-rural Connecticut and for the plot, which is a mixture of what the Wellses and their spouses and children do on this Thanksgiving, and of Jack’s memories of Clare and his need to rekindle hope and sexual passion in his life.

Besides Penny and her husband Peter, a financial consultant, and their children Mary, Becky and Bo, and Jack and Gwen and their children Kate and Sam, the guests include Mary’s friend Liz from college, and Patricia and Curly Wells, Penny and Gwen’s parents. In an elegantly notational style, Hobbie presents the accumulation of small details that constitute the occasion that brings all these characters together—from the eighteenth century graveyard on the property, to the Rumford fireplace in the house, to how some of the characters hint at trouble in their lives. For example, Penny weeps in Jack’s arms in the kitchen, Curly tells him on the porch how overwhelming the universe is, and Jack and Liz pet in the woods on the property. For all...

(The entire section is 513 words.)