The Other Side of the Day by Hilda Sidney Krech. Knopf (1958), 304 pp.
Margaret Hays, a Berkeley homemaker in her mid-thirties, is growing increasingly discontented. She spends her days cleaning the house, preparing meals, and looking after her two young sons, Gordon and Danny. She'd like to return to New York, but her husband, Carl, a fairly successful architect and builder, hates the place. He wants her to find a way to greater happiness where they are. He also wants the house clean. Margaret first seeks fulfillment by joining a women’s civic group. When that fails, she considers getting a job.
For the first two-thirds of the book, Krech stays right on target. The author renders Margaret’s life -- her thoughts and feelings, her daily routines, her family and friends, eventually her clients and coworkers -- with knowing detail. The focus stays on Margaret throughout the novel. Other characters’ problems go unsolved. But having put everything in place, Krech doesn’t seem to know where to take the story. She passes up opportunities for work conflicts and romantic entanglements (both Margaret’s and Carl’s), opting instead for a melodramatic diversion that overwhelms Margaret’s ability to solve her basic problem. So the author fudges the answer to the home-vs.-work question. Readers may well be disappointed. The book nevertheless deserves a wide audience for depicting the question, which is just as pertinent now as it was sixty years ago, with such acuity.