Synopses & Reviews
"Let me tell you something, son. When you're young, and you head out to wonderful, everything is fresh and bright as a brand-new penny, but before you get to wonderful you're going to have to pass through all right. And when you get to all right, stop and take a good, long look, because that may be as far as you're ever going to go."
It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village of a few hundred people, nestled in the Valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: one contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money.
Finding work at the local butcher shop, Charlie befriends the owner and his family, including the owner's son, Sam, who he is soon treating as though he were his own flesh and blood. And it is through the shop that Charlie gradually meets all the townsfolk, including Boaty Glass, Brownsburg's wealthiest citizen, and most significantly, Boaty's beautiful teenage bride, Sylvan.
This last encounter sets in motion the events that give Goolrick's powerful tale the stark, emotional impact that thrilled fans of his previous novel, A Reliable Wife. Charlie's attraction to Sylvan Glass turns first to lust and then to a need to possess her, a need so basic it becomes an all-consuming passion that threatens to destroy everything and everyone in its path.
Told through the eyes of Sam, now an old man looking back on the events that changed his world forever, Heading Out to Wonderful is a suspenseful masterpiece, a haunting, heart-stopping novel of obsession and love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a time such things could happen.
"Goolrick's tale of doomed love resonates like a folk ballad, with the language of the Blue Ridge Mountains and its people giving this novel its soul. Just after WWII, 39-year-old veteran Charlie Beale arrives in smalltown Brownsburg, Va., hoping for a brighter future. He offers his services to the local butcher, Will Haislett, and works his way into the good graces of Haislett's family, especially five-year-old Sam. But even as Charlie finds acceptance, he remains apart in Brownsburg: he attends services in every church before finally finding redemption in an African-American Episcopal service; he buys up more land than he needs; and he makes a big mistake by falling for Sylvan Glass, the young wife of wealthy, old, vulgar Harrison Glass, who bought Sylvan at 17 'like a head of cattle.' Sylvan, an outsider like Charlie, dreams of Hollywood, while Charlie simply yearns for a place to call home. Goolrick (A Reliable Wife) tells their story from multiple perspectives, most poignantly that of Sam's, a boy trying to make sense of the unfolding tragedy. Like any good ballad, the narrative builds slowly to its violent climax, packs an emotional punch, and then haunts readers with its quintessentially American refrain. Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Associates." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Doesnt disappoint.”—John Searles, on NBCs "Today"
“Fans of Goolrick's juicy debut novel A Reliable Wife—which spent 32 weeks on USA Today's Best-Selling Books list—can't wait for this follow-up.”—USAToday.com
“Deliciously dark and dangerous.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
“Within the heartbreak of this story, there is joy and beauty . . . In a year when so many of the books Ive read have been lovely and memorable, Heading Out to Wonderful is my favorite. I could not possibly recommend it or any other book more highly.”—Literate Housewife
“Goolrick spins out his tale like a mountain ballad . . . Dreamers like Charlie will still try to blunder on to wonderful, and they're the ones whom poets will sing about and old men will remember.”
“Robert Goolrick vividly evokes two lovers doomed by their place and their past.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
“[A] poetic tale that simmers with foreboding atmosphere.”—Printers Row magazine, Chicago Tribune
“[An] unforgettable story of lost and displaced souls in search of identity, acceptance and belonging . . . Goolrick (A Reliable Wife) masterfully ratchets up the tension, while evocative sensory detail and spiritual overtones infuse the emotional landscape of a powerful, climactic novel that seeks to define and explore the meaning of love and goodness.”—Shelf Awareness
“Robert Goolrick is a master of emotive, suspense-driven drama.”—Flavorpill
In Heading Out to Wonderful
, an attractive and enigmatic stranger — Charlie Beale, a loner, recently home from the war in Europe — wanders into the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village of only a few hundred people nestled in the Valley of Virginia. He brings with him two suitcases: one contains all his worldly possessions, including a set of butcher's knives; the other is full of money.
Charlie quickly finds a job at the local butcher shop and through his work there meets all the townspeople, most notably Sam Haislett, the five-year-old son of the shop's owner, and Sylvan Glass, the beautiful, eccentric teenage bride of the town's richest man. What no one anticipates is how the interaction of these three people will alter the town forever, and how the passion that flares between Charlie and Sylvan will mark young Sam for life.
Told through the eyes of Sam, now an older man looking back on that time, this much-anticipated follow-up to A Reliable Wife is an exciting, erotically charged, and altogether unforgettable story of love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a time such things could happen.
It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village nestled in the Valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: one contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money. Heading Out to Wonderful is a haunting, heart-stopping novel of love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a time such things could happen.
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.