Heading Out to Wonderful

( 45 )


It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village nestled in the Valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: one contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money. Heading Out to Wonderful is a haunting, heart-stopping novel of love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a ...

See more details below
BN.com price
(Save 30%)$14.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (86) from $1.99   
  • New (13) from $2.80   
  • Used (73) from $1.99   
Heading Out to Wonderful

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
BN.com price
(Save 26%)$14.95 List Price


It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village nestled in the Valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: one contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money. Heading Out to Wonderful is a haunting, heart-stopping novel of love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a time such things could happen.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Goolrick’s tale of doomed love resonates like a folk ballad, with the language of the Blue Ridge Mountains and its people giving this novel its soul. Just after WWII, 39-year-old veteran Charlie Beale arrives in smalltown Brownsburg, Va., hoping for a brighter future. He offers his services to the local butcher, Will Haislett, and works his way into the good graces of Haislett’s family, especially five-year-old Sam. But even as Charlie finds acceptance, he remains apart in Brownsburg: he attends services in every church before finally finding redemption in an African-American Episcopal service; he buys up more land than he needs; and he makes a big mistake by falling for Sylvan Glass, the young wife of wealthy, old, vulgar Harrison Glass, who bought Sylvan at 17 “like a head of cattle.” Sylvan, an outsider like Charlie, dreams of Hollywood, while Charlie simply yearns for a place to call home. Goolrick (A Reliable Wife) tells their story from multiple perspectives, most poignantly that of Sam’s, a boy trying to make sense of the unfolding tragedy. Like any good ballad, the narrative builds slowly to its violent climax, packs an emotional punch, and then haunts readers with its quintessentially American refrain. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (June 12)
Family Circle

“A lyrical yet suspenseful novel for general fiction readers.”
Library Journal
Washington Post

“Deliciously dark and dangerous.”
O, The Oprah Magazine
The Oprah magazine O

“Dietz’s calm style adds to the sensuous descriptions while still creating the feeling that something bad is going to happen. The listener, lulled by Dietz’s tender voice, will feel the horror of the plot’s climax as strongly as young Sam and the people of Brownsburg.”
Lancaster Online

“[A] soulful and heart wrenching tale of love that knows no bounds.”
Family Circle

“Goolrick is a writer with a big heart and a deft hand for drama. I look forward to whatever he pens next.”
Washington Post
From the Publisher

“Dietz’s subtle southern accent matches his thoughtful pacing of Goolrick’s descriptive prose and expository speech.”

“I can’t tell you . . . how entrancing the reading by Norman Dietz. It’s one of the best narratives I’ve ever run across. Dietz’s voice is perfect, and perfectly engrossing. . . . I urge you to forego the pleasures of the page and seek out these eight CDs from HighBridge.”
Ralph Magazine

Ralph Magazine

“A character-driven novel by Robert Goolrick, allows Dietz to offer listeners the full measure of a dramatic talent he honed during his decades in theater. Using low tones, near whispers—at turns urgent, reflective, matter of fact—Dietz describes an affair that consumes two people, shakes a town and permanently warps the young boy who witnesses it.”
Lancaster Online
Library Journal
Drifter Charlie Beale—toting a cash-stuffed suitcase and a set of premium butcher knives—moves to a small and notably crime-free Southern town. While the bloody writing is on the wall from the beginning, this novel is not a straightforward Southern gothic thriller but primarily a lyrical meditation on the magnified elements of small-town life: friendship, trust, land, lust, and sin. Sylvan, a beautiful hillbilly girl—literally purchased by the town's richest man—has transformed herself into a shimmering imitation of a Hollywood movie star. Her seemingly preordained adultery with Charlie is both condemned and envied by the town. The soul of the story, however, is Charlie's five-year-old companion, Sam, whose parents inexplicably allow him to accompany Charlie everywhere. As a witness sworn to secrecy, Sam is left tragically complicit in the adultery and its consequences. VERDICT Goolrick (A Reliable Wife) creates a timeless town where memory of an affair and crime can haunt forever. A lyrical yet suspenseful novel for general fiction readers. [See Prepub Alert, 1/21/12.]—John R. Cecil, Austin, TX
Kirkus Reviews
A torrid extramarital romance is the heart of Goolrick's powerful but problematic second novel; it follows the acclaimed A Reliable Wife (2009). Brownsburg nestles beneath Virginia's mountains. In 1948 it's a no-stoplight, God-fearing, segregated place, the blacks out of sight. Strangers are monitored rather than greeted, strangers like Charlie Beale, a 39-year-old Northerner with a suitcase of cash. His first purchase is the river land where he's been sleeping. He's evidently a gentle soul, childlike even, but how could a naïf have acquired all that cash? That's never answered; the stranger's mystique is preserved at the cost of credibility. Charlie's a butcher by trade, and he's hired by a local guy, a good Christian like his wife. They dote on their only child, 5-year-old Sam, and soon Charlie does too. He also comes to dote on one of his customers. Sylvan Glass is a bewitching blonde, barely out of her teens, with a thrilling fantasy life; she's a star-struck movie fan. She's married to a much older man, Boaty Glass. Boaty is fat and rich and mean. He plucked Sylvan from her hillbilly family in the hollows, paying cash down; Boaty's negotiation with her dirt-poor father is utterly convincing. Charlie and Sylvan are drawn to each other from the get-go; Sylvan sees him as her matinee idol, while Charlie is transformed by unconditional love. He buys her a house for their trysts, doing Sam no favors by using him as a cover. Goolrick is aiming for the somber momentum of the ballad, and there is much pleasure-giving psychological truth along the way, but at a key moment his calibration fails him. Something extraordinary happens, out of the blue. "You may wonder why, and I'm telling you that I don't know," is the narrator's cop-out. That doesn't stop the gothic flourishes of a murder/suicide, followed by a second suicide; yet arresting as they are, they seem arbitrary. There are some weak links in a chain that's still capable of pulling you along.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616202798
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 1/15/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 513,028
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Goolrick

In addition to his most recent novel, The Fall of Princes, Robert Goolrick is the author of three other books: The End of the World as We Know It, a memoir; his first novel, A Reliable Wife, with sales of more than 1 million copies; and his second novel, Heading Out to Wonderful. He lives in Virginia.
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Heading Out to Wonderful



Copyright © 2012 Robert Goolrick
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-56512-923-8

Chapter One

The thing is, all memory is fiction. You have to remember that. Of course, there are things that actually, certifiably happened, things where you can pinpoint the day, the hour, and the minute. When you think about it, though, those things mostly seem to happen to other people.

This story actually happened, and it happened pretty much the way I'm going to tell it to you. It's a true story, as much as six decades of remembering and telling can allow it to be true. Time changes things, and you don't always get everything right. You remember a little thing clear as a bell, the weather, say, or the splash of light on the river's ripples as the sun was going down into the black pines, things not even connected to anything in particular, while other things, big things even, come completely disconnected and no longer have any shape or sound. The little things seem more real than some of the big things.

People still ask me about it to this day, about what happened and why I think it happened, as if I knew even now after all this time, when everything's been over for decades except the talk and the myth, I don't know what else you'd call it. I'm not young any more, so sometimes I can't tell what things are the things I remember and what things are just things that other people told me. They tell me things I did, and a lot of them I don't remember, but most people around here aren't liars, so I just go on and believe them, until it seems that I actually do remember the things they say.

But I still ask myself sometimes late at night about what happened, how it all turned out, about the life I've led, you know, every thing. I ask myself the same questions they ask me, these people who've only heard about it, who weren't even around when it all took place. What happened and why did it have to happen in the way it did?

Was I damaged by it, they want to know, wounded in some way? And I always say no. I don't think I was hurt by it. But I was changed, changed deeply and forever in ways I realize more and more every day. Anyway, it's too late now to go back, to take that rock out of the river, the one that changed the course of the water's flow.

The story began this way. And it began here, more than sixty years ago.

This was a town where no crime had ever been committed. Disasters had happened, of course, natural disasters had occurred in the course of things, barn fires, floods, house fires, terrible illnesses. So many fine young men from the town who didn't come back from the war, or came back from France and Germany bruised and wounded and shy and scared of sharp bright electric sounds in the dark. And sin. Envy and greed and covetousness and pride, there was terrible pride. But no crime. Not in this town.

Brownsburg, Virginia, 1948, the kind of town that existed in the years right after the war, where the terrible American wanting hadn't touched yet, where most people lived a simple life without yearning for things they couldn't have, where the general store had tin Merita bread signs as door handles, and, inside, slabs of bacon and loaves of thin-sliced bread and canned vegetables and flour and flannel shirts and yard goods and movie magazines for the dreamers and penny candies in glass jars on the counter for the children. Cokes and brightly colored Nehi pop nestled in a metal box that was filled with iced water, and you got your drink by sliding it out of the metal slots through the icy water, dope, my mother called it, sometimes saying to my father, "Let's go down to the store and get a dope." She was a teacher, Latin to unruly and unwilling boys and girls, but she longed for another time. She liked the way it had been before the war a whole lot better. She saw everything that way, as though change were not happening faster than her heart could beat.

The general store stood in the middle of a thin short row of others like it, a butcher, a barber, a bank, a hardware store with bins of nails and screws and simple tools and wiring, and lumber in the back, but everything else you had to drive to Lexington to get, twelve miles of two-lane twist away. It was a town where people expected to live calmly and die and go to heaven in due time.

On a hill behind the town there was a school that went all the way from first grade to graduation, the ones who made it that far, with a small, thinly stocked library built alongside it. That's where my mother taught the stories of the wars and the gods. Arma virumque cano / Troiae qui primus ab oris. The school was heated by wood stoves, and sometimes it was so cold in the winter that the children got the day off, even if it wasn't snowing, and school let out in early May so the children could help with the planting.

There weren't any stoplights. The streets, the few of them that there were, were straight and smooth and didn't go very far. Nobody drove fast, except the occasional stranger who drove through town, lost on his way from someplace to someplace else that wasn't Brownsburg.

There were two advertising billboards, one at each end of the town. Crudely painted, they said, identically, charlie carter cleans chimneys, and underneath, Recaps, Liners, Repairs. That's all. No phone number, no address, so unless you knew who Charlie was and where he lived, there was no way in hell you were going to get your chimney relined, if you needed that. But Charlie Carter lived right behind one of the signs, anyway, so the few people who had need of his services didn't have much trouble.

The people here then, they believed in God and The Book. They believed that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, that the Word was truth—no, that it was fact, as it was given to the prophets and the saints. The faith of their fathers passed through them mother to son, son to daughter and son, until it peopled the towns they made.

They hoped for their own salvation, and they feared for their neighbor's perdition.

They didn't divorce. There was not one divorce in the whole town, never had been. The church preached against it, and custom didn't allow it.

The houses in Brownsburg sat with straight and honest faces toward the street, brick mostly or clapboard, built within a twenty-five-year span of one another about a hundred years before. They had shallow yards running along the street, and bigger yards to the back. These yards became a kind of unspoken, amicable battleground between neighbors, in every house gardeners, and every gardener seeing who could make the best show, flowers on the street side, vegetables behind, the women and girls to the front, the men and boys out back, victories measured out in continuous, radiant bloom, and in the number of jars of vegetables put up on hot summer days, to be eaten in the dead of winter.

In the evenings, the mothers and fathers would sit on the porches, drinking iced tea and talking in soft voices about the day's events, while the girls sat on the lawns making chains out of dandelions, and the boys made lonesome bleating whistles with blades of grass squeezed between their thumbs. They listened to the radio, in the evenings, but since there was only one station anybody could get, the town became, for that hour or two, like a stereophonic symphony.

There were five hundred and thirty-eight people here, then, and it rarely changed, the number of births pretty much keeping pace with the number of deaths.

No doors were ever locked. No dogs were walked on leashes. On a snowy day, children sledded in the street. Most of the men smoked, and some of the women, who had picked it up when their husbands went off to war.

The black people, about fifty adults and twenty children, lived in clean neat wooden houses clustered together, not quite outside the town, but not quite inside it either. They worked hard, and they pretty much kept the town running, the houses clean, the laundry fresh and crisp, and the fields flourishing, with not one word of thanks and very little in the way of money, and they spent the money they made from the white men at white men's stores. They had their own church, a storefront down at the end of Main Street, and a preacher who came every other week to lead them in services of prayer and song that went on from ten in the morning until six at night with a break for lunch. The children learned to read and write and do their sums at home. Their knowledge of the world stopped pretty much at the edge of the town limits.

Nobody went on vacations. The idea just didn't occur to them. Trips were limited to funerals, the occasional wedding, and family reunions.

Children remember summer best; they feel its pleasures on their skin. The older you get, it's the winters that stay with you, down deep in your bones. Things happen in the winter. People die in February.

Children remember staying up late. Grownups think about getting up early.

A particular town, then, Brownsburg, in a particular time and place. The notion of being happy didn't occur to most people, it just wasn't something they thought about, and life treated them pretty well, and even though at least two or three men got drunk every week night and slapped their wives and children around and children were punished hard when they were rude or misbehaved, the notion of being unhappy didn't occur much either.

They just accepted their lot, these five hundred or so men, women, and children, black and white, the blacks knowing their place, as they said then, which meant that the whites knew their place, too, and were pretty pleased with their lot in the evolutionary parade. The people moved about their daily business and did the things that life laid out for them to do, always aware of the mountains that ringed them in, blue in the summer twilights, the light turning from white to gold to rose as they sat on their porches. In the black winter, they sat in front of their wood stoves and listened to the sad and joyous songs of mountain women and plains cowboys on the radio before they went to their early beds.

They belonged to the land, to this particular place, the way their cars or their tablespoons belonged to them.

The people were religious people, and their faith got them through whatever fell on them, that and the land and the mountains that cradled and gave a salvation to anybody who had the grace to live nestled in their ancient soft hollows.

Dappled, then, and green in the summer, when Charlie Beale arrived, the days hot and the rain regular. Everybody complained about the weather most of the time, except for rain, which stopped everything useful but always made people think that it was needed, even if it had just rained three days before.

Charlie Beale drove into town out of nowhere in an old beat-up pickup truck. On the seat beside him there were two suitcases. One was thin cardboard and had seen a lot of wear and in it were all of Charlie Beale's clothes and a set of butcher knives, sharp as razors.

The other one was made of tin and it had a lock because it was filled with money. A lot of money. Charlie wore the key to the lock on a chain around his throat.

He paid Russell Hostetter a dollar a night to let him park his truck out in a field by the river, three miles outside of town, and he slept in the flatbed, sleeping on one old quilt, covered by another, and he bathed in the river in the dark with soap and a towel he bought at the general store. The summer moonlight filtered through the willow branches and made shadows on his pale, glistening back. The black, cool water sparkled as he shook out his wet hair, turned from brown to the black of the water and the starlit night. One thing about Charlie Beale, he was always clean. He dried his wet skin with the rough towel, rubbing until it was red, as though he had been slapped.

Every night, before he slept, before he turned down the kerosene lamp he kept with him and lay back to marvel at the vastness of the sky, he drank a glass of whiskey and smoked a Lucky Strike, and then he wrote in his diary. Mostly it was just the state of things, the temperature, the amount of rainfall, little things. Hot today, he would write. Snow, twelve inches. Or, Saw an eagle. He wasn't a poetic man. Thirty-nine years on the planet had beaten the poetry out of him.

As he wrote, he would start to remember what it had been like, growing up where he grew, the people who were his people, and other people he met along the way, and he would note down things, finding as he wrote a kind of simple eloquence, always referring to his friends only by their initials, just so, when he got old, he would have some way of looking back on the days that were passing, the places he'd been. He'd done it since he was a boy, when his fascination with the world was greater than it was when he came to town, and even though the passage of his life didn't interest him nearly as much now that it was happening as it had when it was all just waiting to begin, he still kept at it, out of habit. Sometimes, in reading back, he would come across a set of initials he'd written down, and not be able to place the person, the face, or the reference.

Keeping the diaries was his way of judging how far he stood from what he considered to be goodness, as he understood the term, and most nights he would add a little plus or minus next to whatever he'd written, just to gauge the distance, his recorded moral compass. There were eleven of these diaries in a box in the truck, numbered by year. He was working on his twelfth.

Then he knelt by the truck with the singing of the crickets loud in the dark and the murmur of the night moths like a fluttering in the heart, and he said his prayers, even though he knew deep down he had lost his faith somewhere along the way. He prayed for his family, he prayed the bright hopes of his childhood would return to him. He prayed that things would finally turn out better, and that this would be the place he could feel at home.

He bought a loaf of white bread at the store, and some sliced baloney and peanut butter and jelly and a carton of Cokes, and he ate sandwiches out by the river, keeping the drinks cool in the dark flowing water.

Every day of the first week he walked the streets of the town, seemingly without purpose or direction. He nodded hello to everybody he passed, politely, but he didn't talk to a soul. He just looked with a quiet, even stare at the shops: from the dry goods store down to the barber shop with its striped pole twirling endlessly. He looked closely at every house, at the neat picket fences and gardens. He looked at the faces of the people of the town, as they in turn looked at him, and he pictured these faces as he lay in the dark out by the river, just thinking about whether or not these were people he would like to know.

Some days, he got in his truck and drove aimlessly around the back roads of the county, his suitcases on the seat beside him. He would stop and look out at the mountains, across the farm fields now gray-gold with the end of summer heat and drought, the second-cutting hay all done, the golden stubble sticking straight out of brown dirt. He just watched the land. He looked at the county from every angle.

Everything he did was noticed. What was he looking for, they wondered all over town. What was he looking at?

They were waiting. They were waiting for him to do something, and until he made the first move, nobody would hold out a hand to shake, or give anything back to his gentle stare.

He was the scarecrow in the garden.

After one week, Charlie Beale started doing things. He got up with the first light, a sliver of moon still in the sky, and shaved in the rearview mirror of his truck. He put on a clean white shirt, and he went and sat with Russell Hostetter at the breakfast table and arranged to buy the fifty acres of river land out where his truck was parked.

He paid him one thousand dollars in cash.

"Planning to build?" Russell asked.

"I don't think so," said Charlie. "It's just peaceful. I just want a quiet place."

"Well, it's pretty peaceful out there," said Russell. "I got to tell you," he said, eyeing the stack of one-hundred-dollar bills, "that land ain't good for much except peace and quiet."

"That's all I want."

"Flood plain."

"I'm not building out there."

They shook hands and Charlie said he'd arrange to have the survey done and the deed recorded. Then Russell went back to his breakfast and Charlie got into his truck, the leather seats already warm from the morning sun, and just drove and sat by the river, his land and river now, until it was late morning. He took off his shirt to let the sun warm his skin.


Excerpted from Heading Out to Wonderful by ROBERT GOOLRICK Copyright © 2012 by Robert Goolrick. Excerpted by permission of ALGONQUIN BOOKS OF CHAPEL HILL. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 45 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 13, 2012

    Great 1940's history in with a good read

    OK, I admit I am an Historical Fiction reader and picked this up because my local indie bookstore recommend it for me and it is about the time period in which my parents lived on a farm in Missouri. I found it to be a slow start but if you can stick with it until at least page 45, you will pulled in to an interesting read. I love the references to life in the mountains, on the farms, and in the cities as the time moves from WWII's end to how life was changed after that war. (i.e. people not liking the "old" things from their parents and grandparents and wanting new things; also, the movements from farms to tract homes) I have not finished this book yet but am enjoying the ride.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 19, 2012

    I absolutely loved this book. This is the second of his that I'v

    I absolutely loved this book. This is the second of his that I've read and I'm eagerly anticipating the next. He crafts a sentence with such an evocative vocabulary that he transports you to a place and time that you haven't and can't experience. But, it feels totally alive. You understand how it feels, how the people think and even the emotions they are having even if they are totally foreign to you. The cadence of his writing feels the way you would expect the time and place to feel.

    Goolrick is a superlative storyteller. It will take you a few pages to get used to the way he writes, but if you love good fiction, I highly recommend this book.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2012

    Great book

    This book was fantastic with countless little surprises. Some better than others.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 18, 2012

    Beautifully written and full of "catch your breath" su

    Beautifully written and full of "catch your breath" surprises. Loved the book; just not necessarily how it ended for the characters. This will definitely be a reading group recommendation from me. I am dying to discuss it with ten other people all at the same time! First time I have read this author. Will pick up his earlier stuff and give it a try. Well done, Mr. Goolrick! I will think about this story for a long time.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2012

    Good period novel

    I purchased rhis book because it is set in a town near Lynchburg VA, where my mother and her family were from, and where my sisters and I loved visiting during our childhood in the '40s & '50s. Many of rhe places mentioned are familiar, which added to my enjoyment of the book.

    The writing is intelligent and descriptive, only occasionally bogging down. It's hard for me, as a mother, to concieve of adults being so thoughtless in their behavior around the small boy; they must have known that he saw and heard their lovemaking. The parents also continued to allow the child to acccompany Charlie, even though they knew about the affair. All of them adored this child, yet caused him so much damage. So much misdirected love, inexplicable behavior, so much tragedy. It is definitely not a happy book.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 1, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Great story, well written, keeps you interesting from the beginn

    Great story, well written, keeps you interesting from the beginning. You get drawn in to the characters lives and find yourself losing sleep to find out what happens next. Read the authors other two books and all three are favorites. Goodrich has a gift for writing raw emotional content. Great read. Highly recommend!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    A page turner. I liked it as well as A Reliable Wife. It's qui

    A page turner. I liked it as well as A Reliable Wife. It's quirky, but realistic, a twisting plot that one reads with interest and dismay, as Goolrich keeps you on the edge of your seat.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 25, 2013

    Goolrick is a wonderful writer and a slam dunk story teller.  I

    Goolrick is a wonderful writer and a slam dunk story teller.  I loved Reluctant Wife and was not disappointed Heading Out....  It was full of heart and unusual characters.  There was an interesting spin on the role of "community" in reaching out to those who are struggling.  And particularly by those who are struggling themselves.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    not his best

    the story is engaging but the ending is gruesome and depressing

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 18, 2014

    Beautifully written Excellent read.  The author creates the scen

    Beautifully written
    Excellent read.  The author creates the scene as clearly as a painting.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2014


    Good book

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 19, 2014

    This book was such a disappointment to me, I was so looking forw

    This book was such a disappointment to me, I was so looking forward to reading this novel.  I loved The Reliable Wife and Heading out to Wonderful was not near as good.  It is gloomy and at times extremely slow.  Any chance of redemption was thrown away in the last 20%. 

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2014

    Disapointed !

    This book had great characters but what happened at the end was terrible and did not fit the character at all. Good book with a way off terrible ending.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2013

    Thoughtfully Written

    I'd give it another half star if I could.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 24, 2013

    A friend warned me the synopsis of this book sounded like a Dani

    A friend warned me the synopsis of this book sounded like a Danielle Steele novel. I said, “How can it be like Danielle Steele? It’s about simple rural people post WWII.” My friend was right.

    The plot of this novel is unabashedly borrowed from bodice-ripping romance novels – the kind with Fabio on the cover, golden locks a’flowin’ and pecs glistening in the sun. Chapter after chapter of aching love and longing, aching love and longing, more and more aching love and longing. I’m fine with a slow and easy plot motivated almost entirely by sentiment as long as the characters are interesting, but the characters in Heading Out to Wonderful are rehashed stereotypes from countless other (better told) stories. Then, when the skimpy plot finally kicks into gear, it is flash and spectacle the likes of which readers have never imagined Charlie Beale capable of (especially in the company he was in). The last two chapters practically beg the reader to view him as some sort of beloved hero, all evidence to the contrary.
    The author spends much of the book trying to assure us that the story he’s telling will pack an awesome and satisfying punch but then delivers a climax any eighth grade boy would imagine.
    Adding insult to injury, we are never told where Charlie Beale comes from or how he came into possession of that case of money. These elements are used only to the author’s advantage: to lure the reader in with no accountability thereafter. The same is true of the omnipotent narrator; everything is known about everyone unless it’s something the author doesn’t want to bother explaining, at which point we are told, “nobody ever knew why…”
    The best part of this book is the title, the cover, and first few pages where the small Virginia town is lovingly and delicately described. I was eagerly drawn in. Shortly after that, it was a belabored romance novel with a laughable, Dynasty-style climax, and a desperate (sad) plea to view the story as something much more poignant than it was.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2013

    My Nightmare.

    IF I HAD FIGURED OUT sooner what it meant, I wouldn't keep smacking my head on the bedpost, sending my fragile bracelet flying and my locket releasing all the perfume liquid inside it. "The young, the strong," my grandpa used to say. But evre ime I had that dream, I bumped something. I thought that maybe the dream would go away— but it stayed put, stayed put. I groane in despair. "Same dream?" Guessed my rather attractive mother. She placed her tea cup on the table. "Yes," I admitted. "The one with the funny—" my older brother Ethan started. "Shut up," I fumed. "This is serious."

    But it didn't seem very like Mark, Ethan, and Bonnie thought so. I hissed. "Hon, has it been scaring you?" I thought about that. "N-no," I admitted. "But the other dream I had last night did." Ethan threw his phone carelessly to the ground. "What?" He asked. "The monster got you," I explained. "All of you." "Chocolate bar," began my mom. "Monsters aren't real." I shrugged. "It was still a nightmare!" A shrill, breezy itch ran across my arm. "Do they, Adriana?"

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

    The Reliable Wife was very good fiction, so I purchased this boo

    The Reliable Wife was very good fiction, so I purchased this book. I was very disappointed by the extreme violence in Heading Out to Wonderful.
    Goolrick's memoir is worth reading, and it may shed light on the reason why he included the unnecessary violence. I hope his next book is not as gruesome.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 29, 2013

    Haunting, Interesting, Heartbreaking Wow, I wasn't expecting thi

    Haunting, Interesting, Heartbreaking
    Wow, I wasn't expecting this book to do much for me. I was using it as a novel between my usual 500+ historical fiction fare. Much to my surprise, this book, although short in length, was exceptional. The writing is beautiful. Clearly, the author took every ounce of pain he has experienced in his life, and laid it out in this story. Parts were predictable, others were not. Personally, I would have preferred a longer version of this book that connects the characters more. I felt there was something missing. There was a distance between the reader and the characters. You never felt the intense feelings of Charlie and Sylvan. Instead, I felt more like a spectator far away. I would still highly recommend this book. It has all the elements of a good novel. I think this Goolrick is terrific, and look forward to more of his work in the future.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2013


    A blue pegus unicorn walked in . Spitfire may i join maam . I have won th best flier young athlete contset

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2013

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)