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A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
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A Reliable Wife (edition 2010)

by Robert Goolrick

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3,6383041,451 (3.31)228
Member:Boutabook
Title:A Reliable Wife
Authors:Robert Goolrick
Info:Algonquin Books (2010), Edition: 1, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:None

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A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

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    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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Showing 1-5 of 302 (next | show all)
In upstate Wisconsin, Ralph Truitt is a very wealthy man, but a lonely one. So he advertises for “a reliable wife.” Catherine Land responds and after some back-and-forth correspondence she arrives on the train. As soon as Truitt sees her he knows she has lied, but he cannot turn her away in front of everyone, and in the middle of a snowstorm, so they make their way to his estate. But neither has been entirely truthful and as their relationship develops their pasts will catch up to them.

Talk about your gothic mystery! Betrayal, an abandoned mansion, a long-lost son, and the isolation of a Wisconsin winter are just the beginning. The characters employ duplicity, obfuscation, coercion, prevarication, and downright lies. The plot is full of passion and remorse. They rush head-long towards the cliff of despair and destruction, and turn to one another with tenderness and forgiveness (or is it merely acceptance?).

I thought Goolrick did a pretty good job of revealing Catherine’s back story and possible motivations. I was intrigued by this mysterious woman with her fine manners and obvious skills, yet warped psyche. I was a little disappointed in how the author revealed Truitt, however. I never really understood what drove him. Was it only guilt for past behavior? Was he so caught up in his ability to control and “create” that he could not give up? Was it love? And Antonio was little more than a caricature – an angry young man who never matured beyond the hedonistic stage.

I was completely caught up in the story and surprised by more than one twist. I found myself wondering how on earth Goolrick was going to end this story, who would leave and who would stay, who might kill whom (for, clearly – to me, at least – they couldn’t all live happily ever after). ( )
  BookConcierge | Apr 28, 2016 |
Are you kidding me? ( )
  sydsavvy | Apr 8, 2016 |
$85.00
  danbrady | Apr 8, 2016 |
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick is a moody gothic tale set in 1907 to 1908. Ralph Truitt, a fifty-four year old wealthy business man from rural northern Wisconsin has advertised for a reliable wife. Catherine Land has answered his personal ad. Catherine is not the simple daughter of a missionary that she claims to be, but circumstances lead them to marry anyway; as the story says repeatedly: "These things happened."

In the novel, Ralph is very aware that the winters in Wisconsin are cold, bleak, and depressing - a setting that compels people to commit horrendous, violent acts in desperation. Goolrick does an admirable job setting the dark tone to the novel and the psychological torment the characters are going though. Neither character is precisely what they appear to be. Both of them hold their own dark secrets and reasons for wanting to marry.

Although I found parts of the plot of A Reliable Wife predictable, the quality of Goolrick's writing does elevate the book above the ordinary. He has a real gift for setting a mood and elevating the tension between the characters. The longing and sexual tension is palatable in his very real, complex characters. These characters want: they want love; they want to escape; they want redemption; they want hope - but they don't feel they are worthy of any of it.

I'm going to have to admit that I found the pacing of A Reliable Wife uneven and inconsistent. At times I did feel a compulsion to read on until I hit parts where it felt flat and repetitious. And, as I mentioned, the plot itself offered no great surprise. It was certainly worth reading.
highly recommended; http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Everyone is dead or dying or depressed, and everyone is weirdly obsessed with sex -- when asleep, when awake, when sick, when dying.

I did not like this book (although I thought I would; the sample I downloaded, maybe the first chapter or two, was solidly written and interesting). I do not like making sex and tragedy seem like the same thing, or inextricable parts of a depressing whole. I gave it two stars instead of one because there were some beautiful turns of phrase, and a few times when the philosophy was less macabre and more profound, but all the positives were, by the end of the book, overshadowed by the distaste-mingled-with-marginal-pity I felt for every single one of the characters. ( )
  BraveNewBks | Mar 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 302 (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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