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A Reliable Wife

by

A Reliable Wife Cover

 

Awards

Staff Pick

Come a day, you might get sick of hearing about A Reliable Wife — so many people will have read it and raved to you about it. Here's some preventative medicine: read it first. Seduction, marriage, money, sex, drugs, murder... when Catherine Land arrives in Wisconsin on a snowy day in 1907, we know she's an imposter — but does her husband-to-be? Robert Goolrick has written a novel that you'll want to devour in a single sitting. Simultaneously, you'll want to luxuriate in its drama as long as possible. Whatever you decide, there's too much pleasure in these pages to leave to your friends.
Recommended by Dave, Powells.com

Frank advertises for a "mail-order bride," and Catherine accepts. She arrives in Wisconsin during a blizzard, which sets the initial tone for the chilly interaction between them. They both have sinister, unexpressed plans for each other. Heavy on themes of sex, greed, and self-interest, The Reliable Wife morphs into a pseudo love story. Ralph suffers at Catherine's hand, and she seems untouchable — but is she? Catherine undergoes a character change that is slow, believable, and satisfying.  I loved it!
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

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Publisher Comments:

Rural Wisconsin, 1907. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for a reliable wife. But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the simple, honest woman that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets — has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

With echoes of Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, Robert Goolrick's intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

Review:

"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

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... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"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

Review:

"A Reliable Wife is a nearly forensic look at love in all its incarnations, with all its damages, deceptions, and obsessions, run through with points of light and pinned with ruinous truths....Astonishing, complex, beautifully written, and brilliant." Sara Gruen

Review:

"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

Review:

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

Review:

"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

Review:

"Robert Goolrick's A Reliable Wife is my must-read recommendation....This engrossing and addictive novel will leave you both chilled and satisfied." NPR's Morning Edition

Review:

"A thrilling, juicy read....The writing is beautiful and the story is captivating. It's a real page-turner." Today Show

Review:

"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

Synopsis:

He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for "a reliable wife." She responded, saying that she was "a simple, honest woman." She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving her a wealthy widow, able to take care of the one she truly loved.

What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own. And what neither anticipated was that they would fall so completely in love.

Filled with unforgettable characters, and shimmering with color and atmosphere, A Reliable Wife is an enthralling tale of love and madness, of longing and murder.

Synopsis:

Vivid and enthralling, Island of the Doves tells the story of two women in early nineteenth century Americaand#151;one typical of her time, one extraordinary for itand#151;who transform each otherand#8217;s lives.

Susannah Fraser lives in one of Buffaloand#8217;s finest mansions, but her husband has made it a monstrous prison. When a mysterious woman offers to help her escape, Susannah boards a steamboat for Mackinac Island. But after being a dutiful daughter and obedient wife, it is only as she flees that she realizes how unprepared she is for freedom.

An exceptional woman of early America, Magdelaine Fonteneau has overcome convention to live a bold and adventurous life, achieving great wealth and power as a fur trader. But Magdelaine has also seen great tragedy and lost all that was dear to her, and she is no longer sure her hardened heart is capable of love.

Now, Magdelaine seeks redemption by offering safe harbor to Susannah. But as their friendship grows into something miraculous, it changes each woman in unexpected ways. Each needs to learn to love again, and only together can they realize a future bright with the promise of new lifeand#133;

Synopsis:

Vivid and enthralling, Island of the Doves tells the story of a courageous woman who is desperate for freedom and of those who will risk everything to help herand#133;

Susannah Fraser lives in one of Buffaloand#8217;s finest mansions, but her monstrous husband makes the home a terrible prison. When a local nun offers to help her escape, Susannah boards a steamship headed for Mackinac Island and a chance at freedom.

Magdelaine Fonteneau has seen her share of tragedyand#151;a husband murdered before her eyes, two sisters lostand#151;and she sees offering Susannah refuge in her island home as atonement for her many regrets. This act of kindness changes Susannah in ways she never could have imagined as she finds solace in the company of others who carry their own secrets and scars. Only together can they untangle their pastsand#151;and find a future bright with the promise of new lifeand#133;

About the Author

In addition to A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick is the author of the acclaimed memoir The End of the World as We Know It. He lives in a small Virginia town.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 19 comments:

Katsuya, December 27, 2012 (view all comments by Katsuya)
Goolrick has an almost poetic way with the language and builds suspense beautifully in this, his first, novel. It is a very gothic tale. As I was reading it, for some reason I kept thinking of Edgar Allan Poe, and the poem of his that came to mind was Annabel Lee. Not that the stories that the poem and this novel tell are particularly related but the cadence of the language and the use of repetition struck me as being similar. The book also reminded me of younger (much younger) days when I used to devour the novels of Daphne du Maurier and the Bronte' sisters. This book would be right at home on a shelf with those ladies' works.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
kayeanna77, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by kayeanna77)
It takes a lot to surprise me in a book and yet this book did just that! Just when I thought I knew who these characters were, they reached out and slapped you around a little to make sure you weren't too comfortable in your beliefs!

The story-telling is engrossing and so detailed that it draws you in...allowing you to become each character whether you like it or not.

I love finding new authors to read and this is definitely one that will make a recurring appearance on my list!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Iammybff, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Iammybff)
An amazing look into such an intimate life of 2 different people. I had a hard time getting into it at the beginning and was glad I continued to read on. Full of insight, sinful pleasures and heartbreaking pasts.
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View all 19 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781565129771
Author:
Goolrick, Robert
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Author:
McNees, Kelly O'Connor
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
FICTION / Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Historical
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20100131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
includes a readers guide
Pages:
320
Dimensions:
8.50x5.50x1.25 in. .69 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


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Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
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A Reliable Wife Used Trade Paper
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$8.50 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - English 9781565129771 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Come a day, you might get sick of hearing about A Reliable Wife — so many people will have read it and raved to you about it. Here's some preventative medicine: read it first. Seduction, marriage, money, sex, drugs, murder... when Catherine Land arrives in Wisconsin on a snowy day in 1907, we know she's an imposter — but does her husband-to-be? Robert Goolrick has written a novel that you'll want to devour in a single sitting. Simultaneously, you'll want to luxuriate in its drama as long as possible. Whatever you decide, there's too much pleasure in these pages to leave to your friends.

"Staff Pick" by ,

Frank advertises for a "mail-order bride," and Catherine accepts. She arrives in Wisconsin during a blizzard, which sets the initial tone for the chilly interaction between them. They both have sinister, unexpressed plans for each other. Heavy on themes of sex, greed, and self-interest, The Reliable Wife morphs into a pseudo love story. Ralph suffers at Catherine's hand, and she seems untouchable — but is she? Catherine undergoes a character change that is slow, believable, and satisfying.  I loved it!

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "A Reliable Wife is a nearly forensic look at love in all its incarnations, with all its damages, deceptions, and obsessions, run through with points of light and pinned with ruinous truths....Astonishing, complex, beautifully written, and brilliant."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "A killer debut novel....Suspenseful and erotic....[A] chillingly engrossing plot...Good to the riveting end."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "Robert Goolrick's A Reliable Wife is my must-read recommendation....This engrossing and addictive novel will leave you both chilled and satisfied."
"Review" by , "A thrilling, juicy read....The writing is beautiful and the story is captivating. It's a real page-turner."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for "a reliable wife." She responded, saying that she was "a simple, honest woman." She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving her a wealthy widow, able to take care of the one she truly loved.

What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own. And what neither anticipated was that they would fall so completely in love.

Filled with unforgettable characters, and shimmering with color and atmosphere, A Reliable Wife is an enthralling tale of love and madness, of longing and murder.

"Synopsis" by ,
Vivid and enthralling, Island of the Doves tells the story of two women in early nineteenth century Americaand#151;one typical of her time, one extraordinary for itand#151;who transform each otherand#8217;s lives.

Susannah Fraser lives in one of Buffaloand#8217;s finest mansions, but her husband has made it a monstrous prison. When a mysterious woman offers to help her escape, Susannah boards a steamboat for Mackinac Island. But after being a dutiful daughter and obedient wife, it is only as she flees that she realizes how unprepared she is for freedom.

An exceptional woman of early America, Magdelaine Fonteneau has overcome convention to live a bold and adventurous life, achieving great wealth and power as a fur trader. But Magdelaine has also seen great tragedy and lost all that was dear to her, and she is no longer sure her hardened heart is capable of love.

Now, Magdelaine seeks redemption by offering safe harbor to Susannah. But as their friendship grows into something miraculous, it changes each woman in unexpected ways. Each needs to learn to love again, and only together can they realize a future bright with the promise of new lifeand#133;

"Synopsis" by ,
Vivid and enthralling, Island of the Doves tells the story of a courageous woman who is desperate for freedom and of those who will risk everything to help herand#133;

Susannah Fraser lives in one of Buffaloand#8217;s finest mansions, but her monstrous husband makes the home a terrible prison. When a local nun offers to help her escape, Susannah boards a steamship headed for Mackinac Island and a chance at freedom.

Magdelaine Fonteneau has seen her share of tragedyand#151;a husband murdered before her eyes, two sisters lostand#151;and she sees offering Susannah refuge in her island home as atonement for her many regrets. This act of kindness changes Susannah in ways she never could have imagined as she finds solace in the company of others who carry their own secrets and scars. Only together can they untangle their pastsand#151;and find a future bright with the promise of new lifeand#133;

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