Algonquin. Aug. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9781616207915. $26.95. f ;.
Having left behind the corporate world, ghostwriter Allie Lang is thrilled with her independence yet struggling to support herself and her son in a crummy upstate New York rental house with a tentative love interest living in the basement and sometimes contributing to the rent. She’s used to shapeshifting for each new client, but her latest subject proves to be a challenge. In-the-news lawyer and women’s rights advocate Lana Breban is aiming for public office, and her handlers want a memoir that will make her look cozier. But though Lana has a son, she doesn’t have a lot of mom stories to tell—she barely throws statistics Allie’s way—and Allie soon learns that she’s expected to substitute her own stories. Initially, Lana feels almost like a villain, taking advantage of Allie and pushing the idea of women’s rights but not necessarily living it, yet the narrative soon shifts to challenge the idea that Lana could ever be a cookie-baking mom and hard-charging public servant at the same time.
VERDICT In a novel that’s smart, surprising, thought provoking, and bound to set a few readers on edge, making for good book-club debate, Pitlor (The Daylight Marriage) offers an astute study of what it means to be a woman today.
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