Usually marriage is a intimate affair, but when one spouse goes missing privacy is lost and the family falls under intense public scrutiny. Such is the story of Lovell and Hannah, the unhappily married couple in Heidi Pitlor’s The Daylight Marriage.
Lovell and Hannah, in retrospect, probably never should have married. He was dazzled by the beautiful flower delivery girl who showed up at his house with an armful of flowers. She, fresh from a relationship with an unreliable fellow, was taken by Lovell’s seriousness and maturity. So they married, he with enthusiasm and she because she felt it was time she probably did get married. Lovell’s seriousness did not wear well over the years. Hannah complained that he was a workaholic, he was not engaged in family life and they never talked anymore. Lovell complained that she was spoiled, fiscally imprudent and not taking charge of household chores.
Then one day, inspired by an unpaid electric bill, a massive row erupted and Lovell got a bit aggressive, kicking the bed frame and breaking a perfume bottle. Too much was said that couldn’t be taken back and Hannah walked out. Since this was not the first time, Lovell was not overly alarmed when she was gone in the morning but as the day progressed he began to worry and called the police. Being the husband of a missing woman puts him instantly under suspicion.
Told in alternating viewpoints we learn from his perspective what happened over the months after Hannah went missing, and from her perspective, what happened in the hours after she made the terrible choice to leave. This is a complex story that casts a harsh light on a marriage that may have already been crumbling. No one is guilty and no one is innocent, but everyone suffers.
Another tale of a marriage falling apart despite outward appearances is Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum.
“Anna Benz, an American woman in her thirties, lives in comfort and affluence with her Swiss banker husband and their three young children in a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich. Despite the tranquility and order of her domestic existence, Anna is falling apart inside. Isolated in a foreign country and a faltering marriage, Anna begins three adventures to restart her life: Jungian analysis, German language classes, and a series of extramarital affairs whose consequences she cannot foretell. Hausfrau is a daring novel about marriage, fidelity, morality, and most especially, self: how we create ourselves and how we lose our selves and the sometimes disastrous choices we make to find ourselves.” publisher.