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Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

Heading Out to Wonderful (edition 2013)

by Robert Goolrick

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4133825,720 (3.57)16
Title:Heading Out to Wonderful
Authors:Robert Goolrick
Info:Algonquin Books (2013), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

  1. 10
    The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich (Limelite)
    Limelite: Shared atmosphere and tone. And it's about butchers and knives.
  2. 00
    The Round House by Louise Erdrich (tangledthread)

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When Charlie Beale arrives in Brownsville, Virginia in the summer of 1948, his background is a mystery. All that we (and the townspeople) know is that Charlie is trained as a butcher. He goes to work for Will Haislett at the town's only butcher shop and gradually is accepted by the townspeople and by Will's family, especially his 5-year-old son Sam. But a series of events, some caused by Charlie and some outside of his control, set Charlie and the whole town on a path that will upset the delicate balance of their lives.

This story kept me turning the pages of this book, but I felt that more could have been done to develop the characters and make their motivations clearer. I was especially disappointed by the ending, which didn't seem to fit with the characters actions up to that point. ( )
  porch_reader | Sep 6, 2015 |
A mysterious stranger settles in a rural West Virginia town and soon falls in love with another man's wife. Tale told, with some gaping holes, by a 12-year-old boy. The title was better than the story. ( )
  VashonJim | Sep 5, 2015 |
A small, placid Virginia town in 1948 is the setting for this tale of torching passion. Charlie Beale arrives in town looking for a place to call home. Having wandered for years after the war, something calls to him in Brownsburg that leads him to settle down - first in a field by the river, and later getting a job in the butcher shop and buying his own home. He becomes a second father to the butcher's son Sam, who adores him and follows him everywhere. Charlie is on his way to building a life of approbation and belonging, with the reader following along in appreciation, until he sees Her.

She is Sylvan, the beautiful wife of the town's richest and least liked man, Boatie Glass. She is a damaged soul from Blue Ridge poverty, with dreams of glamour and longing for ... something, she isn't sure what.

The combination is explosive, and Goodrick leads the reader through it, both through the eyes of Charlie and of Sam. I found the viewpoint of Sam is especially wrenching, in the midst of secrets and drama he cannot understand. Goodrick does a masterful job of telling the story with sympathy for all.

Recommended. ( )
  wareagle78 | Mar 9, 2015 |
I read this right after finishing Goolrick's first book, A Reliable Wife. This one was just as well written. Very nuanced characters, none of whom are perfect and all of whom are reaching for something more in their lives. The fact that the something more is really just a little happiness makes it all the more compelling.
The event that ends the story of the two lovers wasn't entirely to my liking. Not because I don't like what happened; I'm just not sure it was the right move for these characters. Perhaps with more reflection on the small town community, which can be overly familiar, I will change my mind. But the final event was abrupt in terms of storytelling. Then again, violence of this type always is abrupt, so perhaps I was too influenced by the pace of the story to be prepared for the final event.
At any rate, another excellent novel from Goolrick. ( )
  Laine-Cunningham | Feb 22, 2015 |
Let me tell you something, son. 
When you're young, and you head out to wonderful, everything is fresh and bright as a brand-new penny, 
but before you get to wonderful you're going to have to pass through all right. And when you get to all right, stop and take a good, long look, because that may be as far as you're ever going to go." Thus the story of Charlie Beale begins...a tragic love story in a sleepy small town in Virginia.

The character development of Charlie is so define that you fear that the worst will happen when he enters into a love affair with a fantasy woman. Sylvan Glass is a living breathing fantasy made from her image of how a Hollywood starlet is created. As the story progresses you feel for Charlie, Sylvan and Sam, the young boy who is witness to the small town tragedy.

Mr. Goolrick's narrative creates a spell that does not stop until the end of the book. My only disappointment was the reader is left with the mystery of where did Charlie's money come from. ( )
  Gingersnap000 | Oct 24, 2014 |
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"Let me tell you something, son. 
When you're young, and you head out to wonderful, everything is fresh and bright as a brand-new penny, 
but before you get to wonderful you're going to have to pass through all right. And when you get to all right, stop and take a good, long look, because that may be as far as you're ever going to go."It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village of a few hundred people, nestled in the Valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: one contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money.Finding work at the local butcher shop, Charlie befriends the owner and his family, including the owner's son, Sam, who he is soon treating as though he were his own flesh and blood. And it is through the shop that Charlie gradually meets all the townsfolk, including Boaty Glass, Brownsburg's wealthiest citizen, and most significantly, Boaty's beautiful teenage bride, Sylvan.This last encounter sets in motion the events that give Goolrick's powerful tale the stark, emotional impact that thrilled fans of his previous novel, A Reliable Wife. Charlie's attraction to Sylvan Glass turns first to lust and then to a need to possess her, a need so basic it becomes an all-consuming passion that threatens to destroy everything and everyone in its path. Told through the eyes of Sam, now an old man looking back on the events that changed his world forever, Heading Out to Wonderful is a suspenseful masterpiece, a haunting, heart-stopping novel of obsession and love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a time such things could happen.
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In 1948, a mysterious and charismatic man arrives in a small Virginia town carrying two suitcases; one contains his worldly possessions, the other is full of money. He soon inserts himself into the town's daily life, taking a job in the local butcher shop and befriending the owner and his wife and their son. But the passion that develops between the man and the wife of the town's wealthiest citizen sets in motion a series of events that not only upset the quiet town but threaten to destroy both him and the woman.… (more)

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