A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick



I read A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (2009) a couple of days ago, and I still can't decide exactly how I feel and what I think about the book.

Ralph Truitt, a lonely, rich widower living in a small town in Wisconsin named after his family, is joined in 1907 by a woman, Catherine Land, who responded to his newspaper ad seeking a "reliable wife." Only, Catherine isn't the woman she claimed to be in the letters she exchanged with Ralph for the six months prior to arriving to become his wife.

Catherine's a woman not only with a past, but with harsh plans for Ralph. Plans she's assisted in developing and pursuing by someone known to Ralph.

This dark tale is truly about loneliness, the deals we make with ourselves and others to avoid being alone, and how life has a way of unfolding in interesting ways when we have other plans in mind.

While I found the overall story and characters fascinating, the telling dragged at times, and there was a bit too much of the seamier side of sex for my taste. I can't say too much without providing a spoiler, though I'll note that, when we meet Ralph in the first chapter as he waits at the train station for Catherine, he talks about being obsessed over the years with thoughts of all of the people of the town and their sex lives. Huh? Really? Can't say I've ever experienced the same.

Anyone else read the book and have thoughts to share?

My overall personal rating of A Reliable Wife is a reserved B.

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