Friday, November 29, 2013

A Reliable Wife: A review

Author: Robert Goolrick
Info: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, copyright 2009, 291 pages

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.

With echoes of "Wuthering Heights" and "Rebecca," Robert Goolrick's intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Ralph Truitt wants a wife.  He wants to start over.  Move beyond the past and built a future with someone that is reliable.  When Catherine responds to Ralph's ad in the paper, thinks start to look up.  But Catherine isn't all she seems, and Ralph must confront his past before he has any hope of moving on.  Unfortunately for Ralph, confronting your past can be dangerous.

The Awesome
More than any book I've read, the setting really becomes a character in the story.  The cruel weather of rural Wisconsin mirrors the cold hearts of both Ralph and Catherine followed by the hope of spring, something new and beautiful.  Goolrick makes you feel the cold, the isolation, the desperation.

The Not So Awesome
The setting is about the only awesome thing.  The characters are awful, the deception disgusting, and there was entirely too much sex for my liking.  I think I'll stick to my relatively chaste teen books.  The author likes to describe detail, and on several occurrences I felt like I was rereading the same thing over and over.  In fact, a couple of times I had to stop because I thought my bookmark had been moved and I was reading chapters for a second time.

So this was a book club selection.  I most definitely wouldn't have picked it up on my own.  In all fairness, the book is well written, and the person who penned the book cover blurb did an amazing job.  If I could find time to read more adult novels, I might actually have picked this up after the description.

While I didn't really enjoy this particular story, I'm glad I read it.  It forced me to step out of my comfort zone, and it has given me another suggestion for reader's advisory.  If you like cold, depressing, romance novels, perhaps this is just the book for you. 

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