O My Darling escapes the formulaic and proceeds—to every reader's delight—into literary bliss. Skirting the edges of magical realism, with a couple, Charlotte and Clark Adair, buying a house that is inhabited by the ghosts of marrieds past, ghosts each spouse sees but does not dare tell the other about, Amity Gaige's first novel works in a literary style that is beyond compelling. It is mesmerizing. It is magical. It is so finely crafted even experienced writers stop to question how the author so enchantingly melds concept, feeling, existence, and expression.
Common is the tendency for writers of books on relationships to rely on the common, the hackneyed, the typical, the cliched. But O My Darling is anything but common. Gaige crafts with a poetic acuity that yields settings and characters and tone that are universal yet unpredictable, crazy and uncomfortable yet funny, archetypal yet fresh: The bereaved dog howls at the after-funeral “so woefully that the guests appeared suspicious, unsure that they felt badly enough.” The memory of laughter is for Charlotte “an egg breaking in her chest.” The memory of thunderstorms is for Clark “the shaking of God's great cookie sheet over his boyhood.” The waiters at the country club move “in the candlelight, as quiet as fish.” And the grief, the grief, Gaige has her character decide, is “long flat roads and low skies. Grief is ashes. Distant carnival music. Roadside cats weak with hunger.”
O My Darling is anything but overdone or dull, anything but flat. This novel is a must-read, for everyone from newlywed to widower, for everything it opens as new for each reader—from its perfect left-behind hairpins to its capacious and perfected imperfect human heart.