Monday, September 24, 2012

A Reliable Wife - Robert Goolrick

Summary:  He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for a "reliable wife."  She responded, saying that she was "an 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 herself his wealthy widow.  What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own. (Summary from book - Image from 

My Review:  Well, then.  This book was nothing like I expected.  For the record, I expected a light romantic read with a slightly psychotic twist.  I got the twist, to be sure, but truthfully it was more sociopathic than psychotic.  I suppose that's what I get for not reading the review quotes on the back cover.   I think that my expectations of this book, and my disappointment in not having them met, have colored my review, so bear that in mind.

A Reliable Wife is rife with darkness, desperation, and it's fair share of thoroughly unlikeable characters: Ralph Truitt, an affluent, but lonely, landowner who is convinced that the misdeeds of his past doom him to a life of solitude and unslaked lust; his rakishly repulsive son, Antonio who hates his father with every fiber of his slovenly being; and Catherine, his beautiful, intelligent, and secretly homicidal mail-order bride.  Each character was unique but they all shared a similar penchant for destructive behavior that was hard to endure.

While Goolrick's writing had a certain pull -- an enticingly quiet, emotive style -- the plot was very sexually driven and more graphic than I felt was strictly necessary; hardly a page turned without delving into the topic in one way or another and the characters just couldn't seem to get past it.   I was engaged enough in the story that I wanted to know how it ended, but couldn't stomach reading one more word about anyone's sex drive, so I resorted to skimming about three-quarters of the way through.  Overall, I felt that too much of the focus of this book was on characters reminiscing about their sex lives, both past and present, and that it pulled away from the part of the story I was really interested in -- would she really kill him?  You'll have to read it to find out, but I don't recommend it.

My Rating: 2.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  If you were to take out the pages of this book that contained sexual content (both mild and graphic) this book would be significantly shorter -- likely the size of a child's early reader.

Sum it up:  Unsettling.

1 comment:

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

Haven't read it, but I knew it was graphic. Sorry!


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