A Reliable Wife

A Reliable Wife

by Robert Goolrick


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781565129771
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 01/05/2010
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 162,970
Product dimensions: 5.58(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.96(d)

About the Author

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.

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

Customer Reviews

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Reliable Wife 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3377 reviews.
dreamerbyday More than 1 year ago
I really recommend this book if you are the least intrigued by it, two thumbs up. These two main characters are anything but the face they are showing each other. They EACH have baggage. This is anything but a simple, sweet story. This is an easy book to fall into, a fast beginning. The writing is compelling, very descriptive, indeed. The characters are all repressed and strange, trying to appear normal. The steamy sex scenes were unexpected, and well, intriguing. There are some murderous notions, too. There are many surprises as we read of extravagance and material wastefulness beyond our wildest dreams. Dysfunctional relationships. There were a couple drops in the story, like turbulence on a plane, as I felt built up, then...bla, bla, and that's that. Yet, as we learned, "such things happen", and perhaps that was intended. The author, though, does a fine job keeping us connected and packing in quite a lot of action in what seems to be about a 6-month roller coaster ride.
georface More than 1 year ago
I read the sample first chapter, and I was intrigued. The next couple of chapters were interesting, too, and so I kept reading. By the time I realized that I hated this book, I was 100 pages into it and then felt I had to finish. (I hate it when that happens.) The writing drove me crazy. To describe the soon-to-be husband's desire, just about every sentence for 5 pages started with, "He wanted..." As in, "He wanted to speak to her of his desire, he wanted to undress her, he wanted to unbutton, he wanted to see her step out of her chemise, he wanted to lead her to his bed, he wanted to pull back the coverlet, he wanted to hold her face, he wanted to kiss her, he wanted her to want all this and he wanted her to fear it, he wanted her to submit..." This goes on for pages and pages while I was saying to myself, "I get it! He's horny!" And when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I read this incredible sentence: "He wanted to slice her open and lie inside the warm blood of her body." How romantic! Say what? The female lead is more interesting, but still badly drawn. She seems to change her persona just by changing her dress. Characters are briefly introduced and then discarded - I didn't understand why, except maybe to fill in more pages between the "He wanted" and "She thought" sentences. None of the "surprises" surprised me. Skip it!
sparkylg More than 1 year ago
I read a book a week and this one tops my list of worst reads ever. I stayed with it thinking it would improve~which it didn't. If you are looking for a depressing read about sex, death, deception and mental illness you should consider reading it. Otherwise don't waste your money. Do NOT recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters are thin, the plot thin, the writing thin, i just didn't get it! There wasn't one thing I liked about this book and it was our book club selection, our group of 12 all agreed this was our weakest to date! and all the gratuitous sex,
Bookrec More than 1 year ago
The clerk was raving about this book. For the life of me I can't see why. I will admit I liked his style of writing (It was all that kept me reading.) All anyone thinks about in this book is sex. I'm no prude but it was non-stop. I really didn't care about the characters; I felt they all deserved each other. If this reliable wife had one thought that was her own, maybe I could have bought into the premise. I was totally disappointed with the book. Take a pass on this.
kren250 More than 1 year ago
The plot seemed so intriguing: an older, rich businessman from early 1900s rural Wisconsin puts a mail-order bride ad in the paper. Answering it is a young and beautiful woman with a mysterious past. She journeys to meet him, and the two try to make a life for themselves in the frozen and desolate countryside. Such an interesting plot, how could this book go wrong?! Well...it does, and right from the start. The writing is just awful. I don't mean in a "gosh, this writing style is a bit annoying" kind of way, but in an "how in the heck did this book ever manage to get published?" sort of way. It is truly one of the worst written books I have ever read. And it's not even one specific thing I can mention that was bad, but just an all-over mess. I somehow managed to finish the entire thing (although I admit I skimmed here and there) just because otherwise I would feel guilty for leaving a negative review if I hadn't read it all. So now I can leave my negative review with a clear conscience;-).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was truly terrible. Not only was the writing style a bit wonky (he moved from reminiscence to months later with no segue frequently), but the characters were ALL terrible. Well developed, yes. I'll give him that. But it's a story of sad, lonely, and desperate people doing terrible and desperate things. There's no redemption. It really was NOT worth the money. Or the time. Or the brain space required. I've never written a review for a book before, but this book was bad enough that I wanted to warn people- DO NOT READ THIS BOOK!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was loaned this book by a friend. The first chapter or two felt dreary, and I wasn't sure I would carry on; but when I put it down, I felt a need to see if it continued in the same vein, or if something would actually happen. I've had similar experiences with other books and never returned to them, so I can only conclude that there is something enticing in the writing style Goolrick utilises - it has a different tone from most modern fiction; or even historical fiction. Difficult to explain why the book pulls you in, but it seems to with most people. The characters are puzzling, but not warm - there is no reason for you to really engage with them, yet you find you want to know what will happen to them. My sister couldn't put this book down either, but my mother hated it - and she reads pretty much anything...so it's difficult to really tell what attracts about this book. But it is curiously compelling, in my own opinion - and I'm usually more of a fantasy or historical fiction reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters in this book were so incredibly unrealistic that it made it hard to get behind any of them, whether they were "good" or "evil." You just couldn't believe any of their actions or the motivations behind them, and that made the book seem kind of pointless. Also agree with other reviews that the writing style was repetitive and just bad. And I thought I was going to LOVE this book, because the plot, the whole "gothic" thing, and the historical aspect really appealed to me. what a disappointment. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY OR TIME. if you want a "juicy" but decently written historical drama go for The Other Boleyn Girl by phillipa gregory. that is a page turner. this is not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a hugely disappointing read. I rarely buy books new and prefer them used at 2nd hand stores, but was excited to read the good reviews and the story seemed interesting so I splurged on this one and want my money back. It's very obvious that Mr. Goolrick has no understanding of how to write women and spends WAY too much time writing about sex and not enough on character development. This book should be re-characterized under harlequin fiction!
Austen_fan More than 1 year ago
When I started reading this book, I couldn't help but think of the similarities to the movie "The Original Sin" (2001) starring Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas. I was really shocked. It would have been a good book except for that fact that I've already seen it so it wasn't anything new. Kept thinking, what a knock-off. And one thing, too much sexual yearning that it became sickening.
Gerty954 More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be a difficult read, and like other reviewers, I do not understand how it got to be on anyone's best seller list. I continued reading the book in the hopes that it would get better, but it never delivered. The plot was ridiculous, Goolick's writing style was tedious.the book was disappointing to say the least!
AGMeade More than 1 year ago
I read the summary and I was intrigued. I read the critical acclaim remarks and I was impressed. I read the book and I was... disappointed. While there are several places where the glimmer of genius shone through the prose--a turn of phrase or a beautiful sentence--it was by far one of the most self-indulgent works I've ever read. The Author is far too in love with his writing to see the flaws he creates. Four pages of "He wanted." A convoluted, illogical story-line where entire threads are dropped for chapters, then picked up and continued far too late. The entire thing culminates in rape and death. The husband, a Mary-Sue who forgives far too much, is utterly unbelievable as a wealthy, lonely man who advertises for a wife. The wife, a well versed courtesan, comes across as flighty at best. She waxes poetic for several pages about her supposed resolve, only to show through every action that she has none. The son--the beautiful, prodigal son--is a waste of ink. He does not grow in any way throughout the text. He begins as a spoiled, rotten piece of humanity. He ends the piece by raping his father's wife and waiting to die. The story fluctuates between graphic sex and narcissistic babble about the "way things are." I would not, in any way, recommend the book to anyone else. It gets two stars instead of one because there were some incredibly beautiful sentences hidden in the muck.
Bonnie_C More than 1 year ago
A small town in Wisconsin at the turn of the 20th century is the location for this story. The winters are cruel and life is hard. Citizens are driven mad and turn on their loved ones or die by their own hands. Death is an expected and accepted occurrence. Against this backdrop the tale of A Reliable Wife is told. Ralph Truitt is a man who has tried to atone for his own past mistakes. He laments the loss of his unfaithful wife and the death of his daughter. He rues his mistreatment of a man he considers to be his son. He now has money and power but alas he longs for a female companion to share his house and his bed. Out of desperation, he places an ad asking for "A Reliable Wife." Catherine Land is a young woman who answers the call. She arrives in snowy Wisconsin leaving behind her checkered past and greets her future husband. Ralph desires companionship and a bed partner but Catherine has definite plans of her own. Along with her meager belongings, she brings a plan to obtain wealth which she wants to share with the young lover she has left behind. But before Catherine can begin to implement her plan, Ralph asks her to travel to Saint Louis to bring back his long lost son. Antonio Moretti is the runaway son Catherine has been instructed to bring back to Ralph. Antonio has lived a debauched life in Saint Louis since running away from home. Beer halls, opium dens and meaningless affairs have become his mainstays of life. In her search for Antonio, Catherine finds herself revisiting parts of her own past that she would like to forget. A Reliable Wife is a story of tortured souls. The book weaves a tragic tale between these three main characters as they each search for a future that surely must be brighter than their past. But sadly, there is very little brightness in this story. From the harsh winters of Wisconsin to the seediness of the back alleys of Saint Louis, this story is the epitome of bleakness. The book is very well written. The author's writing is almost poetic in style. The story takes you from one character to another and from one location to another in a smooth transition. You are given great insight into the innermost demons these characters possess so you are well aware of the reasons behind their actions. But readers beware; this is not a happy story. A story can be sad and cause the reader to shed a tear. A story can be tragic and evoke emotions beyond tears. This story goes beyond sadness and tragedy. This story is bleak and depressing. Even when the characters struggle to overcome their tainted past, there is always a feeling of gloom. The last sentence of chapter 24 summed it up best. "It was just a story about despair".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My book club read this one and we found it to be depressing. The author seems to think EVERYONE in this time period is cruel, depressed, and not having much fun. We liked how she ended up being a reliable wife, but thought letting him get that sick was taking it a little too far.
Lynda166 More than 1 year ago
A very lonely and wounded man sets out to find a wife after years of being alone. He places an ad in a newspaper and a few women responded. He picks one and she shows up. They both have tragic past lives and can not share their thoughts and feelings with ease. Is there a happy ever after? I really enjoyed this book because it has great writing skill and I felt concern for the characters as I kept turning the pages. When I first picked this book up I did not think I would enjoy it as much as I did! What a pleasant surprise.
lizzytdos More than 1 year ago
I read this book on the train to and from NYC. The intrigue kept buiiding page by page as the characters showed their true nature and the ending was a true surprise. I really enjoyed reading "A Reliable Wife" and will look forward to Mr. Goolrick's next novel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book and it's characters were as dreary as the winter weather in Wisconsin. Hardly the "potboiler, page turner " as discribed on the back cover. While I finished the book, I would not recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would not recomend this book. None of the charecters were likeable the plot was a bit of a reach and it was just a little bit disturbing. I pass books back and forth with family and friends but this one is going strait to the used book store. To much about sexual hangups and to little to find interesting. I like historical fiction and was expecting more about the living conditions day-to-day activities, environment, etc. The main charecter was creapy his "wife" was weak and his son was just boring. I just wouldn't bother with this book. I would have stoped reading but at the time it was the only new book I had available so I'm sorry to say I finished it.
need-to-read More than 1 year ago
i enjoyed this book. there were a few twists that i didn't see coming. for those readers who suffer from winter blues, don't read it. i actually liked the cold wisconsin setting. the characters kind of match the desolate location. i will pass this novel along for others to read.
twerpazoid More than 1 year ago
A poignantly provocative book with prose that pulls at your very soul in the characters' desperate attempt for reconciliation with their alter egos.
Lora_B More than 1 year ago
Very interesting plot, with unexpected twists. I was interested in the characters from the start.
Mandy-in-Valkaria More than 1 year ago
I stayed up until 3am two nights in a row because I couldn't put this book down. It's a sometimes-creepy look at how isolation/climate can make people behave in a crazy manner. Intriguing look at human behavior and forgiveness. Extrememly thought-provoking; I'll likely read it a second time.
ChickAtty More than 1 year ago
I am astonished by the negative reviews I've read here. "To each his own," I suppose, but I've never seen such diametrically opposed reactions. I hadn't heard about the book when I bought it, so I had no preconceieved notions. I was immediately struck by the lyrical prose and insightful character studies. And the resolution snuck up on me. A worthy book, beautifully written, complex characters. Pay no attention to the naysayers! P.S. I have a good friend who is a poet and book critic. I read this to him while he was recovering from surgery and he gave it a big thumbs up, too.
LUCKYDOG14 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book from the very beginning. I felt like the writer introduced you to each character very well and gave great details of each of their backgrounds and yet left each character mysterious in their own way. In the beginning Mr. Truitt appears to be a man hardened by life and its sorrows, has no affection for the people around him but through out the story you see him become vulnerable and dependent on this stranger he has let into his home. Catherine, at first seems to a simple and honest woman and that is the reason she is meeting Mr. Truitt but you quickly find that she is not all she claims to be, she has many dark secrets that unfold as the story does. Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense, romance and lots of twists and turns