Friday, April 3, 2009

A Reliable Wife - Robert Goolrick

I stayed up past my usual time last night, as I couldn't put down Robert Goolrick's latest, A Reliable Wife, newly released from Harper Collins Canada.

I was going to put down my thoughts first thing this morning, but was at a loss to put into words how amazing this book was.

It is set in 1907 rural Wisconsin, most of it during the harsh winter. Crime, mental illness and disease seem to be part of the accepted landscape. Goolrick in his end notes cites Michael Lesy's book Wisconsin Death Trip as having a 'profound influence on the structure and genesis of his novel.' The darkness and madness of the surrounding town is referred to often, adding to the overall tone of the novel.

Ralph Truit is the patriarch of the town that bears his name. He owns everything and nearly everyone works for him. He has money and power, but not the thing he craves the most, that which he has denied himself for twenty years. Female companionship - a wife. He advertises in a newspaper for ' a reliable wife.'

" He had wanted a simple, honest woman. A quiet life. A life in which everything could be saved and nobody went insane."

Catherine Land answers that ad, describing herself as 'a simple, honest woman'. Ralph sends for her and she arrives to become his spouse. However Catherine is not quite what she has represented herself to be.

"She knew a good deal more about what was to happen than he did." " She knew the end of the story."

I don't want to give away any more of the plot. But it is more complicated than it seems at first glance. Two wounded hearts, both longing for what they can't or don't have, bring these two people together, isolated in a small pocket of madness, for better or worse.

The story itself is captivating, but it is the language that mesmerized me. Goolrick's writing is raw and powerful. Ralph's discourse on his wants and desires are simply beautiful. Catherine's disquistion on her life, desires and how she came to be what she is, is brutal in it's honesty.

Read an excerpt from A Reliable Wife.

I don't know what else to say, other than I was caught up in the story from first to last page. Highly recommended!

16 comments:

Jo-Jo said...

Thanks for the great review...this one has definitely caught my eye!

Melissa said...

Great to read another glowing review of this title. It's on my wishlist, but as long as that has gotten who knows when I'll actually get around to reading it. :-)

Amy said...

I loved this book, too, and OMG I LOVE that cover better than the one I had.

PopinFresh said...

What a gorgeous cover. Great review, I'll have to check this out.

~ Popin

Dar said...

Nice review Luanne. It's always nice when you enjoy the writing like that. I have this one waiting for me but you're ahead of me as usual. lol.

Ladytink_534 said...

So odd that a simple cover change makes me want to read this more. I've seen several reviews for it over the past week but now I really want to read this!

ann schaller said...

I would love to win this contest!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ann - this isn't a contest, just a review!

bermudaonion said...

Great review. I'm really looking forward to reading this book.

Suzanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Suzanne said...

This book has been on my wish list for a while- thanks for the wonderful review! And what a beautiful cover! I'm a bit jealous! ;-)

Laura's Reviews said...

Wow this sounds great!! I'll definitely have to add it to my "to-read" list . . . especially with the rural Wisconsin setting!

Toni said...

Great review. I agree with Amy the cover is so beautiful. I have the plain cover one. I need to read this soon.

B.Kienapple said...

I am so happy you recommended this! I am definitely going to go out and get this.

Red lady-Bonnie said...

This sounds like an interesting premise for a book. That cover is beautiful also.

Anna said...

You're review certainly has made me interested in the book. I'll have to keep this one in mind.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric