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A Good Marriage

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What happens when, on a perfectly ordinary evening, all the things you believed in and took for granted are turned upside down?

When her husband of more than 20 years is away on one of his business trips, Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It's a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.

Listening Length: 3 hours and 33 minutes

4 pages, Audible Audio

First published September 1, 2014

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About the author

Stephen King

2,689 books819k followers
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,300 reviews
Profile Image for Nayra.Hassan.
1,260 reviews5,378 followers
November 16, 2022
هناك خيطا رفيعا بين تحقيقك للعدالة الشعرية و بين كونك سعيدا بالكسرولة التي ترتديها على رأسك
و هناك شعرة دقيقة بين الإنتقام و تحقيق تلك العدالة الشعرية

How to kill your evil husband without getting caught?
كينج سيظل ملكا للسرد مادام هو افضل من يعرض 3مواقف انسانية:

وقائع ذلك اليوم الذي لم تعد حياتك فيه بعده كما كانت قبله¤

تحول المشاعر :من النقيض للنقيض لا في أيام و لا ساعات¤
بل في تلك اللحظة المظلمة :لحظة الحقيقة

أخذ الحق حرفة لا يجيدها احد مثل ¤
كاتب "الخلاص من شاوشنك" و ديلوروس كليبرون" و تلك الزوجة الاربعينية الجيدة "ا

هذه النوفيلا العبقرية تطرح سؤالا خطيرا و جوهرياَ: هل معرفتك بحقائق مريعة عن شريك حياتك يعطيك الحق في محاسبته حتى لو لم يسيء إليك بشكل مباشر؟؟

ستروق للجنس اللطيف بشكل اكبر و كلهن بالفعل منحوها تقييم مرتفع و هذا يحسب للكينج بالطبع
Profile Image for Peter.
2,626 reviews475 followers
April 6, 2020
What a brilliant and compelling story! A wife is married to an accountant who has a murderous characteristic trait (mildly spoken). She finds out about his deeds while looking for new batteries in the garage. How will the story continue? What about her husband and the kids? What about the retired detective who pays her a visit? This story was absolutely extraordinary. Stephen King comes up with excellent characters and leads you directly into the mind of a killer. Phenomenal story, brilliantly told (it was also published in King's anthology Full Dark, No Stars). I am very enthusiastic about the novella and can highly recommend it to anyone interested in a good story full of suspense and psychology!
Profile Image for Delee.
243 reviews1,106 followers
October 12, 2017
It was a good marriage, one of the fifty percent or so that kept working over the long haul. She believed that in the same unquestioning way she believed that gravity would hold her to the earth when she walked down the sidewalk. Until that night in the garage...

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It wasn't a picture perfect marriage- but for the last 27 years- Darcy Anderson thought it was pretty darn close. A little dull, yes...but she was content with her life of no surprises.

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A house in Portland, Maine. A solid mail order business- selling and appraising rare coins, with her predictable and loyal husband Bob- an accountant. Two happy and successful children all grown- a boy- Donnie. A girl Petra. Life was good. The marriage good.

27 years. 9855 days of good- until one night while Bob was on a "business trip" and the TV remote stopped working- Darcy Anderson went looking for double A batteries...

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..and found a whole lot more than she bargained for.

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I have to say I don't read a lot of Stephen King's short stories/novellas...at least I haven't in a very loooooooooong while. I found this one quite by accident at my Kobo (ebook) store site..and thought I had discovered something completely new!! Yay!! Imagine my excitement- A brand new Stephen King!! And only $5.99 at that! I scooped it up only to later learn- not only was it not new, but if I had just checked my bookshelves I would have found it in my unread copy of Full Dark, No Stars. Whoooooopsiiiiie. This wasn't my first blond moment...and I am sure it won't be my last. But completely worth spending my money on...TWICE...lol!! *forehead smack*
Profile Image for Debbie.
441 reviews2,794 followers
December 22, 2015
What a ride! Un-put-down-able. A perfect story. Maybe the scariest psychopath ever.

But this also was one of the weirdest reading experiences ever. Beware Kindle users! In most cases, there aren’t page numbers on the Kindle (Yeah, I know. WTF?) Instead, you see a percentage showing how far you’ve read. I’ll tell you this: For a non-math person, this really sucks. I hate percentages and I hate the damn percent sign. Don’t get me started. Anyway, for some bizarre reason, I feel the need to give you the blow by blow of Debbie reading A Good Marriage. I think it’s because I’m traumatized. It’s okay to step away from the percent sign and go directly to the last couple of paragraphs. (Important note, if you want to be technical: Depending on the font size you’ve chosen, your percents may be different from my percents; does this make cents?)

At 0%: Affectionately tired of a friend hounding me to read this book, though admittedly curious as hell, I picked up my first ever Stephen King. My friend promised that this is not the Stephen King of gore or the supernatural. And this isn’t one of his big fat books, she promised. I take these promises very seriously. I happily sigh and dig in.

At 1%: Immediately hooked! I know right away that I’ll settle into this baby. What a master storyteller, this King man. Give me more!

At 8%: OMG, wifey-poo finds something creepy. I’m perched on the edge of my chair, holding her hand. Hell, I want to help her open the thing up.

At 18%: A super tense conversation between a psychopath and his wife. Each utterance and its response, each ping-pong volley—click bounce click bounce—startles me, grabs me, and holds me tight. Creepy times eighteen.

At 28%: A plan in place. I’m hooked—and so squirmy, it’s not even funny. Cannot, will not, put this book down. The hell with getting the clothes out of the dryer; who says I need to change into a clean shirt? My head is full of exclamation points!!!

At 38%: OMG, what an ending! I love this story! A tight, perfect tale with plenty of thrills and a psychopath of nightmares! … But wait. I look down and see 38%!! WTF?? Why doesn’t it say 100%, showing me the story is over? I ditch the exclamation marks and spit out a bunch of question marks. Where could this story possibly go? Will we follow the wife somewhere? Will the old detective guy change his mind? Okay, okay. I calm myself down and switch from shock to admiration and wild anticipation. Man, King is the king! What can this genius have up his sleeve? I’m sure it’s something crazy and brilliant and totally unexpected. I can’t imagine where he’ll take me, but I trust him completely. More yum is yet to come!

Still at 38%: Part 2, apparently, is called 1922. Interesting….My head is still spewing out questions. Will I be learning about the ancestors of the sociopath . . . or the wife? How can that be exciting? Will it turn into a ghost story? I hope not; ghosts aren’t my thing. Trust the king, I tell myself, just trust him.

At 39%: Struggling to figure out where the hell the story is going. Suddenly I’m back in the year 1922. The tone is different. The characters are different. Throw me a familiar name, will you mister master King man?

At 44%: Okay. I can’t believe that there still seems to be absolutely no connection with the first 38%. And I can’t believe I’ve kept reading. By now, I’m engrossed in this side story, but still patiently waiting for it to make sense. Maybe King isn’t a king after all if he meanders through pages and pages of another scene, another place, all new people.

At 45%: No way!!! Blood and guts everywhere!! My friend lied! She knows I hate gore. What’s up? I have to close my eyes for a few pages (but, of course, since there are no actual page numbers, I’m just guessing). I’m pretty much all fucked up now. My exclamation points are all mixed up with question marks, and it’s pure craziness in my head. What in god’s name does this story have to do with the good bad marriage??

Still at 45%: Calm down. There has to be a logical explanation. When in doubt, check out Goodreads. I read a few Good Marriage reviews, and soon I hear someone say that the Kindle version of a Good Marriage includes ANOTHER story called 1922!!! !!!????!!! Fuck!! No wonder this new story didn’t feel like part of A Good Marriage. It wasn’t! No wonder A Good Marriage seemed done at 38%. It was! I’m furious. I’m relieved. The faith in my friend returns. I resign myself to finishing 1922 because I have to see what happens. I’m grossed out plenty, though—that first violent scene is so damn gory.

At 100%: Pissed that I kept reading. Extreme sport of gore. Rats feasting on people and cows, and not a repulsive detail is spared. Plus there’s even a fucking ghost. Get me out of here! I’m sure King fans will eat it up, but I felt like puking. A well-written story with good characters, but I had to skip at least one whole percent point. Tap tap tap the screen, get me away from the ravenous rats! (I’ll be reviewing 1922 separately.)

After recuperating from this wild and disconcerting ride, I’m left with one question. Why the fuck didn’t the Kindle include an extra page clearly stating that there are two books? It especially doesn’t seem fair because A Good Marriage takes up less than half the book. It would have been fine if I had known that 38% meant The End. As it was, I thought that A Good Marriage had taken a bad left turn by changing its tune and heading back to the year 1922.

Bad things that happened to me (because Kindle didn’t tell me there were two stories):

1. I didn’t get to experience that glowy feeling you get when you finish a good book (since I thought 1922 was Part 2).

2. I began doubting the greatness of King when 1922 seemed to have nothing to do with A Good Marriage.

3. I thought my friend had lied to me, since the book had turned into gore city.

4. I didn’t get to decide if I wanted to read the next story.

5. I resent that the longer story full of blood and rats was longer (and stole more of my time) than the wonderful Good Marriage story.

6. I’ll carry around in my head the really gross and vivid images of ravenous rats chowing down on dead bodies, live bodies, and cows—for god knows how long.

7. I read the book weeks ago and I’m still traumatized, writing a too-long review full of percentages and lists.

If I had been reading a paperback, I would have known what was going on. If 1922 was included, I would have passed on it since it was so sorely gore-ful. There’d be none of this “you’ve read 38% of this book” shit, leading me down the road of confusion and temporarily wrecking my life.

But (finally!) back to the book. Here is the fantastic and perfect opening paragraph:

The one thing nobody asked in casual conversation, Darcy thought in the days after she found what she found in the garage, was this: How’s your marriage? They asked how was your weekend and how was your trip to Florida and how’s your health and how are the kids; they even asked how’s life been treatin you, hon? But nobody asked how’s your marriage?

Good, she would have answered the question before that night. Everything’s fine.

A Good Marriage is a masterpiece. The pacing is perfect and the characters jump off the page. Man, can King tell a good story! The psychopath scared the shit out of me. The conversations between this creepazoid and his creeped-out wife are brilliant. King has an amazing ability to get inside a crazy person’s head and to spurt out the crazy in a way that terrifies you, yet ties you down to your seat and does not allow you to get up and get the clothes out of the dryer when you need to.

The internal monologue of the wife is just as brilliant. She seems so real and normal, you can picture yourself asking the same questions she’s asking. How well do you really know someone you love? When you discover that that someone is evil, do you confront him or keep your trap shut?

A great first King read for those who like a good psychopath but don’t like gore. But if you’re reading A Good Marriage on Kindle, know that when it seems over, it really is over, even though you’re only somewhere around 38%. Damn 38% . . .Damn Kindle . . .

Profile Image for Mohammed-Makram.
1,396 reviews3,108 followers
May 22, 2023

الزواج يشبه منزلا قيد التشييد المتواصل. و كل سنة تشهد اكتمال غرف جديدة. الزواج البالغ عمره سنة واحدة هو كوخ. و الزواج البالغ عمره سبع و عشرون سنة هو قصر ضخم و متشعب. و لا مفر من وجود زوايا مظلمة و مساحات تخزين. معظمها مليء بالغبار و مهجور. و بعضها يحتوي على بقايا بغيضة سرعان ما ستتمنى لو أنك لم تعثر عليها. لكن هذا ليس أمرا ذا شأن كبير. فإما أن ترمي تلك البقايا خارجا. أو تأخذها إلى ركن النوايا الحسنة.
المستحيلات ثلاث: الغول و العنقاء و الزواج الجيد.
-تقصد الخل الوفي.
-نعم و لكن لغير المتزوجين فقط.
كانا متزو��ين منذ فترة طويلة جدا لدرجة أنهما أصبحا متفهمين لبعضهما البعض بشكل كلي تقريبا. هل يحصل هذا في كل زواج؟ لا تعرف. تعرف زواجها فقط. ما عدا أنها بدأت تتساءل الآن إن كانت تعرف حتى زواجها.
هل هناك ما يسمى الزواج الجيد أصلا؟ إذا كنت تعتقد ذلك فأنت ما زلت أعزب و أكاد أقسم على ذلك دون أن أعرفك. لكن يوجد بالطبع الزواج الناجح و الزواج المتماسك و الزواج المفيد. فالزواج هو في الأساس قيد على الحرية لكلا الطرفين في مقابل مجموعة من الإمتيازات الحصرية لكل طرف تجاه الطرف الأخر و هو عقد لتبادل المنفعة في الأساس. لا يخلو الأمر طبعا من المودة و الرحمة و العشرة و الألفة و الرومانسية و لكن الإنسان بطبعه يميل إلى التفرد و الأنانية كما يميل إلى الونس و المؤانسة. أحيانا يكون الوحش كامنا بداخلنا و نستطيع كبته أغلب فترات حياتنا و أحيانا أخرى يتغلب هو على الإنسان بداخلنا و لا يستتر إلا من أقرب الناس إليه.
في هذه القصة تكتشف الزوجة أنها تعيش مع الوحش شخصيا و تشاركه الفراش منذ أكثر من ربع قرن و هي لا تدري عن ذلك شيئا.
هل تخبر الشرطة أم تصمت و تحافظ على بيتها و أولادها أم تواجهه و تموت بين يديه كما فعل بإحدى عشرة امرأة من قبل؟
لطالما كانت بتس تفتخر بوالدها. ماذا سيحل بها إذا عرفت أن اليدين اللتين دفعتاها على الإرجوحة في الفناء الخارجي هما نفس اليدين اللتين سلبتا الحياة من إحدى عشرة امرأة؟ أن الشفتين اللتين قبلتاها قبل أن تنام كانتا تخفيان أسنانا عضت إحدى عشرة امرأة و وصولا حتى العظام في بعض الحالات؟
كانت هذه هي القصة الرابعة و الأخيرة في مجموعة ظلام دامس. لا نجوم
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,159 reviews36.8k followers
November 17, 2019
4 Stars

Is anyone ever who you thought they were? For your sake, I sure hope so!

Darcy Anderson has been married for 27 years. She and her husband Bob have two children and have what she considers to be “A Good Marriage.” That is until the night she goes rummaging in the garage for some Double A batteries while her husband is out of town.

Stumbling upon a box, Darcy gets more than she bargained for and immediately realizes that she doesn’t quite know the person she married. In fact, she doesn’t know him at all. It is a terrifying thought and if it has ever happened to you, it is in fact, horrifying.

How can Darcy “act” normal around Bob and not let the cat out of the bag? It is, after all, a matter of life and death. Death, being the operative word.

The feel, the pacing and the suspense of this short story is sure to scare the bejesus out of you, especially if you have ever been married. Well done Stephen King!

Sometimes it really is who you know that can kill you.

A big thanks to Hoopla for the audiobook.

Published on Goodreads on 11.17.19.
Profile Image for LTJ.
108 reviews43 followers
April 18, 2022
“A Good Marriage” by Stephen King is a quick novella that delivers in such a way that’s relatable and well, creepy. As always with King’s work, the main characters here in Darcy and Bob are very well done and once things start to unravel, truly paint an evil picture of horror at home.

This is a perfect weekend read as it can easily be finished in a few hours and let me tell you if you’re also married, it’s going to hit you even harder because it makes you wonder what you’d do if such a situation ever occurred. It’s definitely a well-crafted read that hits you fast and hard once Darcy discovers something no wife should ever have to deal with involving her husband of so many years, all the memories they created together, and the two children they brought into this world.

I won’t ruin anything for you but everything from the beginning all the way to the beyond intense ending just makes you truly love how great King is as an author. He makes every word count and leaves his mark on what happens when a good marriage ends up being a real-life horror due to an innocent discovery. I give “A Good Marriage” a 5/5 and would highly recommend it to anyone that loves a good horror with a few plot twists along the way you won’t ever see coming.
Profile Image for Kelli.
850 reviews395 followers
June 3, 2018
I’ve said this before but after this superb novella, it certainly bears repeating: how on Earth does Stephen King’s wife sleep comfortably next to such a dark (albeit brilliant) mind?! 4.5 stars
Profile Image for Victoria.
412 reviews319 followers
June 19, 2020

What takes the creep factor up in this novella is the real life feeling of it, the idea that this could be someone's nightmare, even our own. What King asks is that nagging question, is it possible to ever fully know anyone, even the ones we love the most?

Sometimes ignorance is bliss, except in the hands of the author.
Profile Image for Naomi.
4,683 reviews140 followers
November 1, 2014
OK, Stephen King...Here is a newsflash....

1)Being a 47 year old woman, I don't know of ANY 47 year old women who own housecoats. What was next for poor Darcy? Were you going to write her with curlers in her hair and a cigarette hanging from her yellow stained fingertips?

2) Unless she breast fed an entire village, a slightly endowed woman's breasts wouldn't be saggy at 47. Haell I know well endowed women whose girls still stand at attention!

3) I am shocked that you didn't write her as having one foot in the grave...AT 47! Women, particularly highly professional women, are in the middle of their careers and/or families.

Other than that....FANTASTIC read! Can't wait to see how Hollywood destroys it in the movie!

Now excuse me while I go run to Walmart to buy the newest fashion in house dresses. NOT!
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,449 reviews7,552 followers
October 10, 2014
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

How well do you know your spouse? Sure, you think you know all the little nuances about them – and I’m positive you know the things about them that annoy you – but can you ever really know everything about another person?

After 27 years of marriage, Darcy was sure she knew everything about Bob . . . until one night when she went out to the garage and stubbed her toe on a box that wasn’t where it was supposed to be . . .

“One lousy little step in the wrong direction, and [she] was falling.”

What would you do if you discovered your “good marriage” wasn’t what it appeared to be and, in fact, you were really married to a monster?

Living in the area of the “BTK Killer” (which was the inspiration for this story), my creep-o-meter was running full tilt the entire time I was reading. King touched on many of the details relating to Rader’s crimes and made me think of someone I’ve thought of as pure animal for the past 18 years I’ve lived in this area as a human again. As my Goodreads buddy Gary said, "it’s not the story so much as the way he tells it." That statement is spot on. This isn’t a horror story or a thriller or a mystery – A Good Marriage is pure suspense. The majority of the story takes place in Darcy’s own head and King makes you feel all of the anxiety and denial and terror and nausea, etc. that Darcy is feeling.

This could have received all 5-Stars from me, were it not for the last 10 pages or so. While they didn’t do anything to really lessen my enjoyment – they weren’t necessary and didn’t add anything to the story either. That being said, A Good Marriage is a super short read (with or without those “extra” pages), so if you’re looking for something that might raise your heartbeat, but not totally freak you out this Halloween season, this is a good choice.

As with every book, I’m sure this one is not for everyone. If you end up not liking it, I think you should take your concerns directly to Stephen King. His responses are awesome . . .

Sidenote: I have a history of being either underwhelmed or full-on pissed off upon viewing many of King’s movie adaptations, but this one may be an exception to the rule (like with Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, Misery, and a handful of others).
Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,730 reviews6,661 followers
March 7, 2017
I've been married for a number of years, and surprising enough, we continue to learn something new about one another nearly everyday. However, there are things I hope I never learn about him... things like the wife in this story stumbled across in the garage, leading her to a horrific revelation about her husband. OMG I would die. Probably literally if it's anything like this husband's secret! Tell me you're gay, tell me you wish you were born a woman, tell me you want to move to Egypt, tell me you feel led to start a goldfish farm for Eskimos... seriously, I'm a pretty open individual - just don't let me find out you've had this secret life going on!

I enjoyed this short story. I found it to be more psychological thriller than horror but I'm sure they both apply given the author is Stephen King. If you can deal with a small but suspenseful brain break during your day, check out A Good Marriage!

My favorite quote:
“Old habits died hard. Often, she thought, they don't die until we do.”
Profile Image for Dem.
1,186 reviews1,098 followers
November 14, 2014
3.5 stars

I really enjoyed this short novel by Stephen King as it was supensfull short and entertaining. I listened to this on audio and at 3.5 hours long is quite short but well narrated and kept me entertained. I am not a fan of Stephen King novels but this one really floated my boat as it was dark and disturbing.

In this story Darcy and Bob Anderson are empty-nesters, a couple who have had a good and happy marriage raised their children and are comfortable in their lives and routines.Bob is an accountant and coin collector and is away from home from time time. One day while searching for batteries Darcy stumbles on something that will change her life forever.
I listened to this on audio book and the narration was very good and kept me interested.

I recommend this for anyone who is looking for a short read that is suspenseful and engaging.

Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,138 followers
February 8, 2015

Murder! Murder! Murder! After twenty-seven years of marriage, Darcy thought she knew everything there was to know about her mild-mannered CPA husband Bob......until one night she literally stumbles upon some information hidden in a secret compartment in the garage so heinous and shocking, she cannot believe her eyes......but what was she to do......and then Bob calls at his scheduled time......he'll know something is wrong......

Deadly Good suspenseful story with chills and thrills. (must see movie)


In this engaging, sometimes gruesome and super creepy story, Wilfred James (with the halfhearted assistance of his 14 year old son Henry) brutally murders his obnoxious wife Arlette and dumps her bloody body in an old well on the family farm. This one atrocious act of butchery turns into a nightmare of ghastly consequences for both father and son with many "Ewwwww" moments, revengeful spirits and painful losses.

Repulsively Good! (The Stephen King I love)........and this was the "bonus" story in the book!!!

Update: February 7, 2015

Watched "The Good Marriage" today on Netflix, and it was pretty good......thought book was better.

Profile Image for Karla.
1,044 reviews226 followers
March 16, 2023
Re Listened March 2023

Story 4 stars**
Audio 3.75 stars**
narrator Jessica Hecht
Profile Image for Misty Marie Harms.
559 reviews334 followers
January 8, 2022
Darcy Anderson’s husband of twenty years is guarding a dark secret. One night while her husband is on a business trip she went out to the garage to find some batteries. Her foot hits a hidden box under the workbench. Investigating it's contents she discovers the man she married is a rapist and murderer. This story reminds you no matter how well you think you know someone, even your spouse sleeping next to you every night....you may find out you don't them at all.
Profile Image for Mandy.
320 reviews321 followers
October 5, 2017
Fantastic novel, well written... King has such a way with words, names, characters, plot... this book was amazing. Great storyline that makes myself as a wife question what I would do if I were in Darcy’s shoes. Not as sinister as his others but I like that he toned this one down. I didn’t want gore and guts and nasty words jumping at me. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,228 reviews1,062 followers
October 30, 2021
Do we ever really know those we love? What would you do if the person you trusted most, turned out in the end to be a totally different person from the one you thought you knew? What if they were actually your worst nightmare?

This is the premise of A Good Marriage, an 82 page novella written by Stephen King. It was first published with three other novellas, in his 2010 book “Full Dark, No Stars”. Later it was published together with just one other novella, as well as being published on its own.

The story is about an ordinary couple, Darcy and Bob Anderson, who live in Portland, Maine. They have been married for 27 years, and although their friends may not have successful marriages, theirs is solid; it is a good marriage. Bob is an accountant, they have two fine children, and they also own a mail order business selling and appraising rare coins.

One night, while Bob is away on business, Darcy goes into the garage

In a good marriage, the couple keep in touch if one is away, so Bob calls Darcy on the phone most evenings. They know each other’s moods very well. So when she takes the call, Bob can sense her agitation, but Darcy shrugs it off, and lies about the reason for her behaviour.

Life goes on as normal. Then a few months later, they have a stroke of good luck.

“You realize that you are in a hell of your own making, but you go on nevertheless. Because there is nothing else to do.”

This is a page-turner of a read in its development, but its conclusion is strangely unsatisfying and weak. It is as if Stephen King had decided he needed a twist, and so tacked on an extra bit, with a completely new character. Nothing was revealed which changed the events’ significance in any way, and it was all too convenient.

There were also times when our credibility was pushed a little too far. It is an unsettling story, a “what if?” sort of horror thriller, but essentially it is rooted in reality. These are everyday people with everyday humdrum and believable lives. There is no hint of the supernatural, so we must apply straightforward psychology here.

In fact, it is simply manipulative, appealing to the fantasy element in all of us, of a victim wielding the knife of justice. This despite the fact that the psychology of the victim is unbelievable and their resulting actions have to be pushed to ridiculous limits. Once the doubts set in, the story loses all credibility. It feels hollow.

Stephen King explains that A Good Marriage was inspired by a real case. .

Perhaps this last is a reason for the incredulity we feel, reflecting the public’s indignation and disbelief at the time.

In the end, perhaps what is best to take from this disturbing and twisted tale, is the idea that however long one spends with another human being, we may never truly know them. Perhaps it is a part of being human, that we keep a little part of ourselves secret, and never reveal it even to our closest friends and family.

Frankly, I don’t really think this insight, or the payoff, is worth slogging through the sordid details. But others disagree. In Britain, “The Independent” newspaper called it “King at his absolute best”, and “The Daily Telegraph” said that the story starts off with a familiar premise, but ends “with some far more troubling and resonant points about justice and forgiveness”. In the USA, “The Washington Post” said, “Through his mastery of detail and his deceptively effortless narrative voice, King transforms this disquieting material into a disturbing, fascinating book.”

The average on Goodreads is a shade under 4 stars, but I’m afraid it gets 2 stars from me. It is not a 1 star book—and is worth reading if this sort of material is to your taste—but the story has serious faults.

(I have included a lot of spoiler tags here, as I feel that the default blurb on Goodreads reveals too much. If you have read the blurb you may prefer to unclick the later ones.)
Profile Image for ♥Rachel♥.
1,855 reviews846 followers
January 3, 2016
How well does anyone know their mate? Darcy thinks she knows her husband of twenty-seven-plus years really well. That is until her batteries in her TV remote die and she goes to the garage hunting for some fresh ones. What she discovers in the garage changes life as she knew it for good.

Stephen King wrote a tale disturbingly unsettling tale, because it’s something that could happen to anyone, has happened, in fact. I had to ask myself: What would I do in a similar situation? Darcy’s reaction is understandable, and part of it is something I would want to do, would feel compelled to do. Yet, I was torn over it because some people would never have the closure they deserved.

Jessica Hecht did a superb job with the narration lending a wholesome innocence to Darcy that made the horror of her predicament stand out even more. A Good Marriage was only three and a half hours long but it’s a story that leaves an impression, and will have you thinking of the “what ifs” long after.
Profile Image for غُفْرَان.
236 reviews2,112 followers
November 27, 2019
وقد كتبتُ هذه القصة لأستكشف ماذا يمكن أن يحصل في هكذا قضية إذا اكتشفت الزوجة فجأة هواية زوجها المريعة
وكتبتها أيضًا لأستكشف فكرة أنه من المستحيل معرفة أي شخص بالكامل، حتى أكثر الأشخاص الذين نحبهم !

Stephen King..

قصة جيدة لا تخرج إلا من عقل إعتاد الخوض في الجانب الأكثر سوادًا وقتامة في نفوس البشر
ولتعلم ..
أن الأشياء الجميلة الساكنة ليست دائمًا هكذا كما نعتقدها ..

ليست الأروع ولا الأكثر سوادًا فيما كتب كينج ولكن اعتقد أنها أفضل مما ظهر في الترجمة
Profile Image for Yasmine Mohamed.
179 reviews24 followers
December 23, 2020

"Does anybody really know anybody?"


A middle-aged woman, the original out-of- sight and out-of-mind kind of girl with a good home, two good grown up kids and a good loving husband seems like she is having a genuine good life. does she?

So she thought untill one afternoon when she accidentally discovers a secert that's going to change her life forever.

Her accountant, balding, coin collecter, cub scouting husband for twenty seven years isn't really who she thought he was.

Does she look the other side?

Or does love overcome mistakes and she decides to forgive whatever he have done?

Or there is always a third option?

Whatever she decided to do my heart went out for her.

He blindsided her for more than a quarter of a century, her shock for not really knowing the man she spent more than half her life with is beyond my imagination.

Profile Image for Katie T.
1,009 reviews89 followers
February 16, 2023
3.5 stars rounding up.
Shocked I read a King that I didn’t completely hate.
Profile Image for Mimi.
694 reviews191 followers
January 10, 2021
Would you know if your spouse or partner was a serial killer? Do you think you would discover it eventually by yourself or would you remain in dark until law enforcement show up at your front door?

Alternatively, do you believe the wives of serial killers when they say they had no idea what their husbands were up to?

Back when I used to read true crime and serial killers in particular, I had found innocence and complicity to be fairly clear cut. I didn't believe any of the wives or girlfriends, and their testimony rang hollow. The more they proclaimed their innocence, the guiltier they appeared (to me) because, come on, how could you not know?? But, then again, anyone can play armchair judge and jury from the comfort of their living room while evidence and statements are laid out in chronological order or according to an author's or showrunner's preference.

So I went into this story--recommended by my cousin, was made into a Netflix movie, about a serial killer's wife discovering his crimes--with a glaring bias, which I'm aware of, but it's hard to shake.

Although the writing and pace are compelling, the main characters--the serial killer Bob and his wife Darcy--are not, and the sequence of events leading to the two of them facing off are rather hard to believe, given the circumstances. Or rather, given what we're shown and told about Darcy, I find it hard to believe that she . Compelling stuff, but I'm not convinced it's in character for someone like Darcy. It's more in character for her to .

There's a lot to unpack in the second half of the story. I think I will have to revisit it at a later time and maybe revise where I stand on serial killers' wives and how much they really know.

These roadblocks didn't keep me from being glued to the page though. There's an element of suspense in the straight-forward way in which Stephen King chose to lay out this story. It was an irresistible pull that kept me reading, even though I had already guessed what the outcome would be. .

Bob is based on actual serial killer Dennis Rader, aka the BTK Killer, and Darcy, on his wife Paula Dietz. She applied for and was granted an emergency divorce after he was caught. The last time I read about her, which was several years after he was convicted, she claimed not to have known anything.

I haven't seen the Netflix adaptation yet.

General question for those familiar with Stephen King's books:
How does he normally portray women characters in their late 40s? Sagging, deflated, past their due date? It's been awhile since I read Stephen King in earnest, so my memory is a little fuzzy on the details.
Profile Image for Kandice.
1,537 reviews237 followers
September 8, 2017
King has said that he wrote this in response to a news article about a wife saying she knew nothing of her husband's secret life of crime. The media didn't believe her, but King felt it was entirely possible. I do too!

This is a very scary story because not only does she NOT know what her wack husband has been up to, but he has been a good husband while doing it. He is attentive, a good bread winner, has a respectable hobby that turns into a money maker and even does community service with the Boy Scouts past the point of his expected parental involvement. Who would know? No one, is what I believe.

This wife takes matters into her own hands and in an effort to protect her children, fixes him. The story could have ended there and I would have been wholly satisfied, but of course King takes it one step further and gives the wife validation in the form of a kind stranger. This is one time King's ending is as good as the lead up!
Profile Image for ✨Susan✨.
900 reviews175 followers
March 14, 2015
This is a great Stephen King short that can be found in his compilation, Full Dark, No Stars. The premiss is quite frightening actually, do we really know anybody? After being married for 27 years a woman finds out that her husband has more than one unthinkable secret. I watched the movie and it was done very well. Stephen King wrote the script with just a few added character parts but the story was the same.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
1,371 reviews920 followers
July 27, 2015
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘Did she know everything about him? Of course not. No more than he knew everything about her [...] There was no knowing everything, but she felt that after twenty-seven years, they knew all the important things. It was a good marriage, one of the fifty percent or so that kept working over the long haul. She believed that in the same unquestioning way she believed that gravity would hold her to the earth when she walked down the sidewalk.

Until that night in the garage.’

Darcy and Bob Anderson have been contently married for 27 years. Together they have two children and they own a successful mail-order business that deals in collectible American coins which causes Bob to be away on travel frequently. During one of his trips, Darcy goes in search of batteries in the garage after the TV remote dies. In her search, she finds disturbing pornographic magazines that she never would have dreamed Bob would ever read but that ended up being the least disturbing thing she found in the garage that night. The most disturbing was a little wooden box that she herself had given Bob which contained a blood donor card, a library card and driver’s license of a Marjorie Duvall. Marjorie Duvall had been on the six o’clock news recently after she was found murdered by a suspected serial killer named “Beadie”.

Stephen King has said Dennis Rader, otherwise known as the “BTK killer” was his inspiration for A Good Marriage. Dennis Rader was a serial killer that murdered a total of ten people between the years 1974 and 1991. He was a seemingly innocuous member of his community; president of his church council, Cub scout leader and married with two children. No one ever looked at him twice until he was finally caught and convicted of his crimes in 2005. A Good Marriage is a short yet disquieting read that makes you wonder just how well you know the ones you love. Darcy and Bob were married for years and she never once suspected that her loving husband was capable of such brutality; never thought that the serial killer on the news could be the man she married.

My initial response to the ending of this story was discontent. The more I thought about it though, I can’t deny that this still managed to be an adroitly written story that manages to uncover the hidden darkness in all of us, leaving an all encompassing unsettling feeling as a reader. King’s short stories are always my favorite reads of his, although this one definitely left me wanting. I felt more detail was necessary to properly end this tale and I was honestly expecting a twist that never came. Jessica Hecht did a fantastic job with the narration though and really brought Darcy’s nightmare of a situation to life.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,736 reviews940 followers
August 22, 2017
What a great look at two short stories (novellas) by Stephen King.

"A Good Marriage" does a great what if. What if you find out the person you married, had children with, made love to, told your troubles to, was not who they seemed to be. What if they were a monster? What would you do? King does a great job of showing a marriage of comfort that gets upended when something sinister is revealed. No spoilers, just don't know if I could have been as strong. One reason why I love King, and always will, is that he shows you how monsters and those who do evil just look like those around us.

"1922" I previously read and it still freaks me out a bit. I think the reason they put "A Good Marriage" and this one together is to show the contrast between a comfortable marriage and one that has gone to seed. "1922" has more or a horror element on a fantasy level than the previous story. You may pity the main character (I did) and end up thinking long about irony.

Great stories! Recommend strongly.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,311 reviews390 followers
May 9, 2021
D'Arcy have been married with Bob for over 25 years, with kids. She thinks their marriage is alright but one day she stumble on hidden box in the garage that reveals that Bob isn't all what he seems. It had an quick yet exciting pace to it and as always have some really good characters in it. Not as intense and some other books but still a good story
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