A Reliable Wife

A Reliable Wife

3.2 3229
by Robert Goolrick
     
 

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"Abandoning her worldly life, traveling to a remote Wisconsin town in the dead of winter, trusting her future to a man she had never met - such was Catherine Land's new beginning. But there was an ending in sight as well, an ending that would redeem the treachery ahead, justify the sacrifice, and allow her to start over yet again. That was her plan." "For Ralph Truitt… See more details below

Overview

"Abandoning her worldly life, traveling to a remote Wisconsin town in the dead of winter, trusting her future to a man she had never met - such was Catherine Land's new beginning. But there was an ending in sight as well, an ending that would redeem the treachery ahead, justify the sacrifice, and allow her to start over yet again. That was her plan." "For Ralph Truitt, the wealthy businessman who had advertised for "a reliable wife," this was also to be a new beginning. Years of solitude, denial, and remorse would be erased, and Catherine Land, whoever she might be, would be the vessel of his desires, the keeper of his secrets, the means to recover what was lost. That was his plan." Set just after the turn of the twentieth century, A Reliable Wife is the story of these two people, each plagued by a heart filled with anger and guilt, each with a destiny in mind. But neither anticipates what develops between them - the pent-up longings that Catherine discovers in this enigmatic man and the depth of her own emotional response; the joy Ralph experiences in giving Catherine the luxuries she has never known, his growing need for her, and a desire that he thought was long buried.

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Editorial Reviews

Boston Globe
“Debut novelist Robert Goolrick has managed a minor miracle. In the kind of precise, literary prose that breathes life into his complicated characters, Goolrick, author of an acclaimed memoir, has also managed a rousing historical potboiler, an organic mystery rooted in the real social ills of turn-of-the-century America. Whether writing about the farms of Wisconsin or the fleshpots of St. Louis, he re-creates a full-bodied, believable environment, and he peoples these worlds with characters as sensitive, as tortured as any contemporary souls. The result is a detailed exploration of love, despair, and the distance people can travel to reach each other that is as surprising, and as suspenseful, as any beach read.” — Boston Globe

USA Today
"A killer debut novel . . . Suspenseful and erotic . . . [A] chillingly engrossing plot . . . Good to the riveting end." —USA Today

The Washington Post
"A gothic tale of . . . smoldering desire . . . The novel is deliciously wicked and tense, presented as a series of sepia tableaux, interrupted by flashes of bright red violence . . . Once you’ve fallen into the miasma of A Reliable Wife, it’s intoxicating." —The Washington Post
Minneapolis Star Tribune
"A tantalizing pace that will have you flipping faster and faster through the pages . . . A beautiful and haunting read, a story about all the different manifestations of love—a story that will stay with you." —Minneapolis Star Tribune
Today Show
"A thrilling, juicy read . . . The writing is beautiful and the story is captivating. It’s a real page-turner." —Today show
NPR's Morning Edition
"Robert Goolrick's A Reliable Wife is my must-read recommendation . . . This engrossing and addictive novel will leave you both chilled and satisfied." —Chris Livingston, Summer's Best reads on NPR’s Morning Edition
Ron Charles
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.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

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. (Mar.)

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From the Publisher
"A tantalizing pace that will have you flipping faster and faster through the pages . . . A beautiful and haunting read, a story about all the different manifestations of love—a story that will stay with you." —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Goolrick twists a familiar story, refashioning it into something completely original. . . . Few have permeated their narratives with gothic elements and suspense to such great effect. . . . The unforeseen conclusion provides a big payoff for readers of this tension-laden debut from a promising new talent." - Booklist

Booklist
"A thrilling, juicy read . . . The writing is beautiful and the story is captivating. It’s a real page-turner." —Today show
Christian Science Monitor
A Reliable Wife “generates some real suspense . . .This darkly nuanced psychological tale builds to a strong and satisfying close.” –Publishers Weekly

BookPage
“Debut novelist Robert Goolrick has managed a minor miracle. In the kind of precise, literary prose that breathes life into his complicated characters, Goolrick, author of an acclaimed memoir, has also managed a rousing historical potboiler, an organic mystery rooted in the real social ills of turn-of-the-century America. Whether writing about the farms of Wisconsin or the fleshpots of St. Louis, he re-creates a full-bodied, believable environment, and he peoples these worlds with characters as sensitive, as tortured as any contemporary souls. The result is a detailed exploration of love, despair, and the distance people can travel to reach each other that is as surprising, and as suspenseful, as any beach read.” — Boston Globe

Time Out New York
A “glittering, poisoned ice cube of a tale . . . Has a little of the Gothic feel of Daphne DuMaurier's Rebecca—complete with a dead first wife, suspicious housekeeper, and gorgeous mansion . . . A Reliable Wife is eminently readable and should delight fans of old-fashioned Gothic romances . . . Goolrick is a solid wordsmith, and he handily manages the impressive task of making readers care about a woman bent on cold-blooded murder. And generating the proper Gothic ambience in Wisconsin is no mean feat.” — Christian Science Monitor

Washington Post
"[A] beautifully written, beautifully dark book. Goolrick is a superb writer."—Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
A "fierce and sophisticated debut novel . . . In its best moments, A Reliable Wife calls to mind the chilling tales of Poe and Stephen King, and at its core this is a tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions. It melds a plot drenched in suspense with expertly realized characters and psychological realism. The fate of those characters is in doubt right up to this relentless story’s intense final pages, and Goolrick’s ability to sustain that tension is a tribute to his craftsmanship and one of the true pleasures of a fine first novel." — Bookpage

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565129771
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
01/05/2010
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
188,923
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.96(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“I was totally captivated by A Reliable Wife. Raw and lyrical at the same time, Robert Goolrick’s wonderful novel grips the reader with its complex and beautiful story.”—Sandra Brown

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