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Robert Goolrick (1948–2022)

Author of A Reliable Wife

12+ Works 5,647 Members 449 Reviews 6 Favorited

About the Author

Robert Goolrick was born in Virginia and attended Johns Hopkins University. He worked in the advertising field for many years and wrote his first published novel, A Reliable Wife, in 2009. He also published a memoir entitled, The End of the World as We Know It. Goolrick resides in Virginia with his show more dog, Preacher. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Leigh Ledare

Works by Robert Goolrick

Associated Works

The Algonquin Reader: Spring 2012 (2013) — Contributor — 2 copies


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Common Knowledge



Let me start by saying this book is NOTHING like the synopsis leads you to believe. I was prepared for a suspenseful thriller. It didn't take long to realize this is actually a romance novel.....a dark romance novel....but a romance none the less. I don't read romance....it's my least favorite genre....to say I'm NOT a fan, is putting it lightly.

It's also written in a quite poetic and lyrical prose......another of my least preferred reading material choices.

So, I hated it right??.......surprisingly, no..I didn't.

After realizing this was to be a different read than I anticipated, I forged ahead anyway with my no book left unread mantra....and became rather engrossed in this dark drama.

The characters are over dramatic...and downright ridiculous at times...unlikable and unrelatable...the plot is twisted.....the entire story is unrealistic......the sex is often disturbing and toxic.....but, somehow it works beautifully.

Goolrick has me entrigued.......I'm definitely interested in pursuing his other work.
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Jfranklin592262 | 346 other reviews | Sep 25, 2023 |
Inspired by Michael Lesy's "Wisconsin Death Trip."
BarbaraNat | 346 other reviews | May 17, 2023 |
I was on the fence during the first two chapters and then suddenly I couldn't put the book down and finished it in less than 24 hours (and I'm not a particularly fast reader). This story about the intertwining lives of three characters reads like a grand, sweeping narrative. I found myself talking to the characters, arguing with them not to do this or instead to do that. And every time I thought I knew where the book was headed, something unexpected but completely in line with the characters' motivation would happen and throw me off course...and keep me turning the pages. Goolrick is a master at character development--I really felt the pain, hopes, and desires of each character, even the minor characters. One reviewer claims that there's gratuitous sex, but I disagree. The sex is completely in line with the characterizations and simply part of the landscape of the story. I can't wait for Goolrick's next novel!… (more)
Chris.Wolak | 346 other reviews | Oct 13, 2022 |
Ralph Truitt places an ad for a "reliable wife" in a Chicago paper, hoping to finally have someone around who could ease his loneliness. He expects Catherine Land to be a plain woman. Instead, she turns out to be beautiful, and very much not the person in the picture she sent. He knows she's hiding something, but he doesn't feel like he can send her away when it's so cold out (his home is in an isolated area in Wisconsin). When he injures himself and she helps care for him, he decides that he'll allow her to stay and be his wife, even if she wasn't the woman he expected and likely has ulterior motives.

Catherine does, in fact, have ulterior motives. She has brought a bottle of arsenic with her and, after her marriage to Ralph, intends to slowly kill him and inherit everything he has. Except she starts to actually like Ralph, and suddenly it becomes difficult to hold onto her original plan. All she has to do is ask for something and he gives it to her - is it really necessary to kill him?

Ralph has his own plans. He wants Catherine to help him convince his now-adult son to come back home. However, that won't be easy to manage, nor will it necessarily be the best thing for Ralph and his dreams of a family.

This was not for me, at all. Some books leave you with warm and hopeful feelings about humanity. This book does the opposite. There's despair, madness, loneliness, and people being just plain awful to each other. It all feeds on itself and produces more awfulness until there's nothing left. Any feelings of peace or happiness are momentary at best, and rooted in lies.

I probably should have DNFed this book early on, when Ralph annoyed me with his constant obsessive thoughts about sex - the sex everyone besides him must be having. It's amazing the guy was so good at business, considering every stray thought of his seemed to be about sex.

Granted, he had a horrible childhood, with a mother who literally stabbed him with a needle to show him what Hell is like. She also made him think that sex was something only a filthy, awful, and corrupt person would enjoy, so when he started getting interested in girls, he figured he was corrupt and awful too. When he finally fell in love with someone and tried to have a happy life with her, she cheated on him. Everyone else in his awful, remote little town also had miserable lives, so he grew old thinking that "miserable" was the way things would be for him forever. Adding Catherine to his life was supposed to at least help him be less lonely.

I didn't like Ralph, although I occasionally felt sympathy for him. The same went for Catherine. They were two incredibly damaged and emotionally stunted people who, oddly enough, likely would have been perfect for each other if things had gone a bit differently. Unfortunately, like I said, pretty much everyone in this book was some degree of awful, and when they all ended up in the same house together, it was a recipe for disaster.

I finished this book, but I can't say that I'm happy I did. Reading it was like watching something rot. It was effectively done, but that's not necessarily a good thing.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
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Familiar_Diversions | 346 other reviews | Sep 11, 2022 |



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