The Daylight Marriage

  • 2015, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • ISBN 9781616203689
  • Hardcover, Kindle
  • Read an excerpt
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An IndieBound "Indie Next" pick for May 2015

Hannah was spirited, impulsive and attractive, an upper-class young woman who picked, of all men, Lovell—an introverted climate scientist, a practical young man who thought he could change the world if he could just get everyone to listen to reason. After a magical honeymoon they settled in the suburbs to raise their two children.

But over the years, Lovell and Hannah's conversations have become charged with resentments and unspoken desires. She's become withdrawn. His work affords him a convenient distraction. And then, after one explosive argument, Hannah vanishes. For the first time, Lovell is forced to examine the trajectory of his marriage through the lens of memory. As he tries to piece together what happened to his wife—and to their life together—readers follow Hannah on that single day when a hasty decision proves irrevocable.

With unforgettable intensity, balanced wit and heartbreak, and emotional acuity, The Daylight Marriage is a novel about what happens when our intuitions lead us down the wrong paths.

Read an essay Heidi wrote for Medium and Algonquin Books about The Daylight Marriage.

Praise for The Daylight Marriage

"Hypnotically readable—I absolutely couldn't put it down. The structure is brilliant, and I turned the pages with increasing dread. This book is terrific." — Stephen King

"A page-turning exploration of unexpressed love and unnecessary loss. Riveting and heartbreaking." — Geraldine Brooks

"In The Daylight Marriage, there are two mysteries—the whereabouts of a missing woman and the vagaries of the human heart. Heidi Pitlor explores both of these enigmas with equal mastery, merging a shocking crime story with an incisive portrait of a failed marriage. The result is a novel that is fast-moving, emotionally complex, and ultimately heartbreaking." — Tom Perrotta


"The dread-inducing narrative masterfully switches between Hannah's actions on that fateful day and Lovell's experience afterward...Pitlor brings forth the emotions that surge beneath the surface with the precision and power of a conductor...This powerful analysis of how dreams become nightmares will make readers want to hold their loved ones close."Booklist (Starred Review)

"This spellbinding novel of suspense from the author of The Birthdays is told with great sympathy, as tension builds toward an inexorable conclusion."Library Journal

"Beyond the novel's taut suspense and subtle characterization, Pitlor's vivid prose provides an additional pleasure.... The novel's suspense lasts right until its shocking climax, but the 'messy, wonderful, excruciating lives' of its characters linger in the mind long after the last page."— Nick Romeo for The Boston Globe

"The strength of The Daylight Marriage lies in its structure, coupled with a clear, piercing cadence in each sentence....[It] is a tense and bitter read. Dread builds. Unspent violence multiplies in the dark, leaving us to wonder: What is the true horror in this story? Is it waking up to a missing spouse and all the terrible things that could mean? Or is it that one impulsive decision can result in an unalterable fate? When I finished reading The Daylight Marriage, my thoughts first turned to the title, wanting to examine its significance, struck as I was by the profound sense of loss and regret that resulted in the events of the novel. It made me think of this marriage as a set of darkened closeted rooms where the characters must strain to see the corners and can only know their way around by touch or feel, until with violence the curtains are drawn back and that clean and brutal light shines in. Everything laid bare, the good and the bad."— Latifah Salom for Los Angeles Review of Books

"The novel's easy blending of crime and family narrative deftly cracks open the world of Lovell and Hannah's marriage. In this exploration of a woman lost, and a lost love, Pitlor exposes every secret—frustrations, weaknesses, ugliness—to the harsh light of day."Toronto Star

"Already read Room by Emma Donoghue? Consider The Daylight Marriage [next]."Family Circle

"Likely to linger in the reader's mind...thoughtful, lyrical, unforced...A quick, light-footed read...Culturally, we're at a strange moment halfway between the old notions of what a woman's life can be, and the new ones. Marriage, children, suburbia: Is escape from these things a dream, or a nightmare?"New York Times Book Review

"Fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train will delight in this familiar tale—a wife goes missing after an argument, and the police, and her curiously unem0tional husband, embark on a hunt to find out what happened. They mystery will keep you on the edge of your beach chair, but the real attraction to this book is the author's beautiful portrayal of a marriage in peril, of two people whose lives have become heartbreakingly ordinary, and how it forever altered their personalities."Coastal Living

"In this captivating and emotionally stirring new mystery that, dare I say, may be even better than Gone Girl, an unhappy wife, Hannah, goes missing on the way to work one day. Her climate scientist husband, Lovell, unravels chapter by chapter after her disappearance as police find the bones of a dead woman. Hannah and Lovell's marriage has already disintegrated and their parenting is terrible because of it, but their teenage daughter finds role models of a marriage done right in their next-door neighbors, a gay couple. A riveting psychological thriller that lets you work out your darkest fears with a gay twist? Yes, please!"The Advocate

"The Daylight Marriage is structured in two sets of chapters that alternate between Hannah's and Lovell's respective viewpoints, keeping the pages turning as the stories of love, loss, growth and grief progress."BookPage

"The novel's sparseness and surface simplicity belie its emotional heft. After reading its powerful final pages, readers may find themselves longing to embrace those dearest to them or just remembering to say "I love you," no matter how long those words have gone unsaid."—

"Understated and plausible ... We learn the truth about what happened to Hannah in a way that's all the more disturbing for its subtlety." Entertainment Weekly

"I could not put it down. In a way, it's a little Gone Girl, except every word is deliberate. It's more literary. I read it in two sittings."— Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books & Café, Wichita, KS

"The denouement of what happened to Hannah is heartbreaking and heart stopping, and kept me up late into the night. I guarantee this is Gone Girl—or should I say Gone Woman—all over again."KMUW Wichita Public Radio

"After being together many years and having two children, Hannah and Lovell Hall are a married couple growing apart. One night they have a terrible argument in which both accusations and personal objects are thrown. The next morning the unthinkable happens and Hannah disappears. Was this her decision or someone else's? Did her husband take an unforgivable step? The Daylight Marriage is a kinder, gentler Gone Girl with characters readers actually might want to know, a page-turner that explores the depths of human relationships as well as the consequences of even the smallest decision."— Sharon Nagel, Boswell Book Co., Milwaukee, WI

"[R]iveting and distinctive..."BBC Culture

"[A] classic page-turner with just the right amount of human story behind it. The narrative Pitlor constructs for us is a harrowing and deeply real tale of loss: loss of innocence, of loved ones, of ourselves."— Alison Weilandics, for