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

by Robert Goolrick

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3,4572821,553 (3.31)223
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

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    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)
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» See also 223 mentions

English (278)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  Hungarian (1)  French (1)  All languages (285)
Showing 1-5 of 278 (next | show all)
I've heard a lot of buzz about "A Reliable Wife", and was my interest was piqued when it was selected as this month's read for book club. I suppose I should pay closer attention to who is talking a book up (what they normally read, watch etc.) - because while the book was enjoyable enough (even if it was something I normally wouldn't read), it was rather predictable and quite pedestrian. ( )
  mkclane | Jul 31, 2015 |
Ok. Confession time: I didn’t finish this book. It wasn’t for a lack of trying… I just could not get into it. At all. And that kind of sucks because I’ve wanted to read this for, like, ever.

I’m not really sure what it was… It could have been that July was a really weird month for me and I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to read it.

It could have been that what I did manage to read was so descriptive and dense that I had a hard time wrapping my brain around what was really being said (refer back to the whole frame of mind thing).

It could even have been that I was kind of skeeved out by the fact that the main character was a sex obsessed fifty-something year old man who essentially gets himself a mail order bride that’s half his age.

Whatever the reason, the bottom line is this: I barely made it past the second chapter.

I feel bad, like I didn’t really give this book a chance. I know that’s not true though because I tried to read it several times throughout the month, it just wasn’t happening. I just couldn’t do it. ( )
  dkgarner95 | Jul 29, 2015 |
This book took some getting used to. I wasn't sure where it was going at first, but as I learned about the characters and how Ralph came to putting an ad in the paper for a wife. The woman that answered the ad, Catherine, has a story of her own that Ralph does not know about. There are twists and turns and a mystery unfolds after wading through the introduction. Overall, it was a good book, and I enjoyed reading it. ( )
  bandpmom | Jun 5, 2015 |
Interesting...I didn't really like any of the characters, but somehow found myself hoping they would get what they wanted/needed (well, except for Antonio who I REALLY didn't like.) The story was gripping enough to overcome the "wordiness" of the writing style. All in all a recommended read. ( )
  mfdavis | May 20, 2015 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 278 (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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