Monday, 17 August 2009

A Reliable Wife

I can't say this was a good book or a bad book; it just was not for me. Even though Goolrick's debut novel, A Reliable Wife received rave reviews, I found it slow, repetitive and unconvincing. The author's lyrical prose drags on and on with a few high points here and there. The crescendo ending does make sense, but still leaves readers thinking "so what."

In Wisconsin 1907, a devious and lovely Catherine Land answers Ralph Truitt's newspaper ad for a reliable wife, thus the title. Truitt, a wealthy industrialist, practically owns the barren and frigid town. But he can't buy Catherine's love or crack her shell. The conniving temptress has her own agenda, which does not include Truitt.

From the very start, Catherine is not the person she claims to be. Before she meets Truitt at the train station, she throws her elegant velvet gown out the train window arriving in a simple black dress. She steps off his private train car into a blizzard to find a 58 year-old stern and solemn widower plagued with guilt, secrets and pent-up desire. Even the photo Catherine mails to Truitt is of another woman.

"This begins in a lie," he tells Catherine sternly as
he picks up her bags. "I want you to know that I know that...Whatever else,
you're a liar."

What starts as a cat and mouse game of lies, games and vengence turns into a tale of guilt, greed and desperation. Catherine and Truitt are both harboring emotionally charged secrets eating away at their very sanity. Eventually, the pathetic couple reconciles to each other's needs and differences.

The novel won the April 2009 American Book Association Indie Award and Columbia pictures bought the film rights last spring.


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