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A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
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A Reliable Wife (edition 2009)

by Robert Goolrick

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,4312801,572 (3.32)222
Member:obsessedbybooks
Title:A Reliable Wife
Authors:Robert Goolrick
Info:Algonquin Books (2009), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 291 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Fiction, Historical Fiction, Wisconsin, Psychological, Erotic, Suspense, Gothic, 1900s, Made into Movie

Work details

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

  1. 51
    Serena by Ron Rash (GCPLreader)
  2. 41
    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters (teelgee)
  3. 20
    Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy (SmithSJ01)
  4. 10
    A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O'Nan (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Readers who enjoyed the shivery psychological suspense of A Reliable Wife may also like this novel, set in a small town during a diphtheria epidemic. Both novels are set in late 19th century Wisconsin and focus on characters with dark secrets.… (more)
  5. 00
    The Kept by James Scott (hairball)
  6. 00
    Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  7. 00
    Unravelling by Elizabeth Graver (aliastori)
  8. 00
    Ledoyt by Carol Emshwiller (bertilak)
  9. 01
    The Quickening by Michelle Hoover (susiesharp)
    susiesharp: These two books had the same feel to them
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» See also 222 mentions

English (275)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  All languages (282)
Showing 1-5 of 275 (next | show all)
I generally liked the book, altho several passages got to be repetitious and monotonous. A page turner because of the twists and turns and not knowing how it would end. ( )
  Rozey | Apr 23, 2015 |
Not sure if I liked it or not. For me the ending was too abrupt; I kept looking for pages that fell out or a hint at a part II.

Well written and very emotional but still not sure if I like it. ( )
  feenie1010 | Feb 22, 2015 |
This was the first book I've read by Goolrick. Based on the other reviews, it looks like a love it or hate it kind of book.
I can understand why. The characters have a lot of complications...they want one thing and do something to confound their own goals. And then they repeat their mistakes endlessly, as proven by their pasts.
But this book isn't entrenched in their pasts. It follows them step by painful step as they enact more mistakes, knowing they are mistakes, and then try to correct course despite the pain those corrections will cause.
A very nuanced look at people who have done some terrible things to cause pain to others and themselves, and their efforts to finally, before it is too late, make something right. Even if it's a small thing, even if it's already too late.
And that makes for a novel that is well worth reading. ( )
  Laine-Cunningham | Feb 22, 2015 |
I finished reading A Reliable Wife . Thank God.
Here's a google summary:
Ralph Truitt, a wealthy businessman with a troubled past who lives in a remote nineteenth-century Wisconsin town, has advertised for a reliable wife; and his ad is answered by Catherine Land, a woman who makes every effort to hide her own dark secrets.

I don't know how I got roped into reading this one. I think I remembered hearing an NPR review of the book , something about a classified ad - looking for a reliable wife. Wisconsin 1907 sounded interesting. It wasn't. Reviews should talk about the writing, not just the premise of a story. The writing was not the quality I enjoy. It probably didn't help that I had just read Bob Shacochis' The Women Who Lost Her Soul. That was a complicated well written novel, where as a reader you stop to admire the construction of a sentence or the disjoined telling of an intricate story. With this novel there was no marveling at the writing. Seemed like winters in Wisconsin drove people crazy back then. Lust, murder, and suicide predominated the landscape. They must not have had anything good to read. I will not made a mistake like this again. At least it was short. ( )
  novelcommentary | Jan 31, 2015 |
Impulse buy at Hudson News in the Orlando Airport. What a waste of time. In chapter 7, the entire premise of the book is revealed. I don't appreciate authors who think their readers are stupid. Things don't need to be revealed so blatantly. We can read between the lines. The author has promise. He needs to work on plot development, how to give readers just enough information without spoiling the ending. ( )
  jsalmeron | Dec 8, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 275 (next | show all)
Don't be fooled by the prissy cover or that ironic title. Robert Goolrick's first novel, "A Reliable Wife," isn't just hot, it's in heat: a gothic tale of such smoldering desire it should be read in a cold shower. This is a bodice ripper of a hundred thousand pearly buttons, ripped off one at a time with agonizing restraint. It works only because Goolrick never cracks a smile, never lets on that he thinks all this overwrought sexual frustration is anything but the most serious incantation of longing and despair ever uttered in the dead of night.
 
Through repetitive and rhythmically hypnotic prose, Goolrick drives home the characters' loneliness, sexual yearnings, self-loathing and fear. He infuses his novel with the inevitable notion that things will end badly for this damaged family. But he lets us discover for ourselves the breadth and magnitude of dysfunction and the deadly conspiracy in which Catherine and Ralph are, ironically, both complicit.
added by Shortride | editUSA Today, Carol Memmott (Apr 6, 2009)
 
Set in 1907 Wisconsin, Goolrick's fiction debut (after a memoir, The End of the World as We Know It) gets off to a slow, stylized start, but eventually generates some real suspense. When Catherine Land, who's survived a traumatic early life by using her wits and sexuality as weapons, happens on a newspaper ad from a well-to-do businessman in need of a "reliable wife," she invents a plan to benefit from his riches and his need. Her new husband, Ralph Truitt, discovers she's deceived him the moment she arrives in his remote hometown. Driven by a complex mix of emotions and simple animal attraction, he marries her anyway. After the wedding, Catherine helps Ralph search for his estranged son and, despite growing misgivings, begins to poison him with small doses of arsenic. Ralph sickens but doesn't die, and their story unfolds in ways neither they nor the reader expect. This darkly nuanced psychological tale builds to a strong and satisfying close. ( )
added by ehines | editPublishers Weekly
 
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Epigraph
"Be not dishearten'd-Affection shall solve the problems of Freedom yet; Those who love each other shall become invincible." Walt Whitman, "Over the Carnage Rose a Prophetic Voice"
Dedication
For Jeanne Voltz who was better to me than I was to myself with eternal love and gratitude and for my darling brother and sister B and Lindlay.
First words
It was bitter cold, the air electric with all that had not happened yet.
Quotations
"Nothing says hell has to be fire, thought Ralph Truitt, standing in his sober clothes on the platform of a tiny train station in the frozen middle of frozen nowhere."

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Book description
Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

Robert Goolrick's first novel, "A Reliable Wife," isn't just hot, it's in heat: a gothic tale of such smoldering desire it should be read in a cold shower. This is a bodice ripper of a hundred thousand pearly buttons, ripped off one at a time with agonizing restraint. It works only because Goolrick never cracks a smile, never lets on that he thinks all this overwrought sexual frustration is anything but the most serious incantation of longing and despair ever uttered in the dead of night.
The novel is deliciously wicked and tense, presented as a series of sepia tableaux, interrupted by flashes of bright red violence. The whole thing takes place in a fever pitch of exquisite sensations and boundless grief in a place where "the winters were long, and tragedy and madness rose in the pristine air." The word "alone" spreads through these pages like mold in the cellar, until it's everywhere.

In addition to A Reliable Wife, ROBERT GOOLRICK is the author of the acclaimed memoir The End of the World as We Know It. He lives in a small Virginia town. Visit him online at robertgoolrick.com.
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Ralph Truitt, a wealthy businessman with a troubled past who lives in a remote nineteenth-century Wisconsin town, has advertised for a reliable wife; and his ad is answered by Catherine Land, a woman who makes every effort to hide her own dark secrets.… (more)

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