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