Under the Spell: A Novel by Benjamin Hedin

Jealousy, she told herself, was not something she had a right to feel. Not anymore. When Dale had died his passions died with him.

š˜œš˜Æš˜„š˜¦š˜³ š˜µš˜©š˜¦ š˜šš˜±š˜¦š˜­š˜­ is a novel about grief and confronting the walls death puts in place. Sandra’s husband Dale dies unexpectedly, leaving behind loose ends in business and finances that give her no choice but to sort through his email. She stumbles upon a name, Ryan Whitehurst- someone she knew nothing about. Owed an explanation, what better way to discover what their relationship entailed than to write to Ryan as if she is Dale. Let him live on, engage the young seductress. She uncovers intimacies, and soon is sharing her own with a clueless Ryan, who doesn’t know Dale no longer walks the earth. How much truth can she handle? How can she confront or rave at a dead man? What is she looking for by deceiving his other woman? Will she gain closure or open her own wounds deeper? Jealousy? Can you feel jealousy over a dead man?

As a distraction she begins helping a single mother, whom she meets by chance at Best Day, a clinic she goes to hoping to find help for her own grief vertigo. Lee takes to her and has entrusted her to care for Tina, her little girl. Before long, Sandra is ensnared by the tangled mess of their life. Despite having something besides Dale’s death and betrayal to focus on, Sandra is still having panic attacks wondering how much of their life together was true and how much was a lie. Nothing is any clearer and even with Tina she can’t stop playing make believe, pretending Dale is still alive.

She discovers there is money, but he couldn’t have planned his own death, of course not, was this guilt money, a prelude to divorce? Was he planning on leaving her, to take up with Ryan? Will she ever really know? Does Ryan have any answers? How can you deal with the pain of lies after death? As she believes, when Dale died, his passions died with him. But was Sandra ever a passion of his too?

The novel drives home the fact that love is unbalanced, that we never know for sure how those in our lives feel about us. We can only be sure of our own feelings, if even that. Does interest in another, whether acted upon or not, erase everything that we have shared with our spouse? Make our love a lie? It was an ok read, nothing riveting but it’s meant to be about grief and betrayal. I think maybe the introduction of Lee into the story was a bit of an obstacle even though I understand it was distraction from Sandra’s very solid pain. A quiet tale.

Publication Date: June 15, 2021

Northwestern University Press

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