A RELIABLE WIFE by Robert GoolrickA RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick


byRobert Goolrick

Paperback | March 24, 2009

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Set in a small Wisconsin farming and manufacturing town still crumbling a decade after the depression of the 1890s,A Reliable Wifetells the story of Ralph Truitt, a wealthy businessman who advertises for “a reliable wife” in newspapers across America. The woman he chooses, Catherine Land, describes herself as “a simple, honest woman,” but in truth she is both complex and devious— not the missionary’s daughter she claims to be in her letter to Truitt but a courtesan of great beauty, kept by men and haunted by a terrible past. Catherine’s plan in accepting the marriage offer 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 the passion she finds in this seemingly solid, forthright man—a man who also harbours secrets and whose own past is far from pure.

Filled with remarkable characters and drenched with colour and atmosphere,A Reliable Wifeis a story of love and madness, longing and murder, played out in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

In addition toA Reliable Wife, ROBERT GOOLRICK is the author of the acclaimed memoirThe End of the World as We Know It. He lives in a small Virginia town. Visit him online atrobertgoolrick.com.
Title:A RELIABLE WIFEFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8.75 × 6.35 × 1.73 inPublished:March 24, 2009Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554685036

ISBN - 13:9781554685035

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Rated 1 out of 5 by from A Real Disappointment Although the plot is interesting and the characters are eccentric, the writing style of this author left me bored, bored, bored. The theme was constantly repeated throughout the book and left me feeling very frustrated. There was one twist in the middle that grabbed my attention but in the end it was all very predictable. The only reason I got through this book was because it was selected for our reading club. We have 7 members and everyone felt the same way. Very disappointing.
Date published: 2010-04-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A Reliable Letdown I had high hopes for this novel; a story of a woman who answers a personal add to marry a rich man. Not for love, but for companionship. Too bad she has a secret lover and a plan. A plan to poison the rich fool and take his money back to her lover. But can she pull it off? I personally didn't feel for the characters and by the time I got to the end, it was like "So what? That's it?" I've read better tales of deception and murder and wont be recommending this novel.
Date published: 2010-04-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good but sad Great characters, engaging story. Warning though: its pretty bleak. Its starts out bleak, gets more bleak, there's a plot twist that makes it depressing, and then the happy ending makes you wanna cry.
Date published: 2010-02-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Story about Despair While I liked this book overall, as a good story, I found it ultimately to be a story of despair. You get a real sense of the long,harsh Wisconsin winters, the hard life of the factory workers, and the futility of the empty life of the pleasure seekers. A young woman answers an ad to be the mail-order bride of a wealthy man. She is not who she pretends to be. She was a courtesan. She arrives with plans to slowly poison him with arsenic and inherit his fortune. To her surprise, she begins to fall in love with him, and begins to wonder if she can carry out her plans. There is a surprise halfway through, which influences her plans and makes you feel her anguish. It's a sad commentary on life lived without purpose, in spite of a few simple, happy moments.
Date published: 2010-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Great! I chose this book to do for my eighth grade book report. If you've read the book it was a little embarrassing reading my project out to the entire class because of its strong use of sexual behaviors. Still, I found this book to be an empowering and a controversial example of how an "innocent" woman can grow up and turn into this sort of person. The writing flowed beautifully and I highly recommend it. PS. Don't judge my review by my age (13) I am highly mature for the state I grew up in and the surroundings I live in today!
Date published: 2009-12-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointed I'll admit that i picked up this book because the cover grabbed my attention...which just goes to show that it holds true that you can't judge a book by its cover. For something recommended by Heather Reisman I was extremely disappointed, the writing was very repetitive with very little action or driving force and the characters were not likeable or relateable. A very unsatisfying story
Date published: 2009-10-18
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Interesting This book was a bit wordy and the style of writing was unique but I throughly enjoyed the story.
Date published: 2009-10-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It's been awhile.... since I've had a book grab me and hold me till the last page. I honestly couldn't put it down. The writing was evocative and the descriptions made you feel that you were there and part of this gripping story. I highly recommend this book but just have another one ready to go because you won't be reading it for a long time!
Date published: 2009-09-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from a calm read with a twisted ending It's 1907 and Catherine Land, a whore answers an ad in the ppr of a wealthy man's request for a 'reliable wife". She's accepted and goes to Wisconsin to start a life fresh with Mr. Ralph Truitt. Unbesknowst to him, she plans on slowly posioning him with arsenic to claim his riches with his son who was fathered by another man his wife betrayed him with a long time ago. a slow read, lots of wanton explicit sex and a twisted ending to satisfy you
Date published: 2009-09-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A great surprise Not at all what I was expecting. I'd picked up the book to read while on vacation and found myself pulled into a story raw, gritty.. not at all like the love story I was hoping for. Brings a whole new meaning to 'in sickness and in health." Not award winning, but would have been great for a book club - there's a lot here worth talking about.
Date published: 2009-08-27
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disapppointing Promised to be a good read, but turned out to be a poorly written, shallow romance. Expected more from a book recommended by Heather Reisman.
Date published: 2009-08-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Intriguing Reason for Reading: The description of the book intrigued me: the time period, the small town, gothic atmosphere and I always take a second look at "mail order bride" stories from the 19th cent. and this was close enough. Comments: Ralph Truitt, 54, is a wealthy owner of the manufacturing business that employs most of the population of a small town in Midwestern Wisconsin. A widower of twenty years he places an Ad for "a reliable wife" and after a certain amount of correspondence a ticket is sent and Catherine arrives to become his wife. Both parties have deep dark secrets and alternative reasons for embarking on this marriage of convenience. Mr. Truitt soon comes clean and spills his soul to Catherine, before the wedding, telling the tale of his past and his ultimate purpose for her to perform as his wife. Catherine, on the otherhand, keeps her own past a carefully hidden secret and goes to great lengths not to have her devious intentions become known. This is a hard review for me to write because as I was reading the book I started off not liking it, then I would be ok with it, then I did not like it and back and forth until the ending chapters which were tense and hard to put down. Whether I liked it or not, the plot kept me reading and at no point after "Part One" did I think of putting the book down. "Part One" had me thinking I'd made a big mistake with this book and that it was just going to be romantic drivel. I do not read pure romance books and found myself rolling my eyes and hoping something more than two people hating each other, having constant conflict, then secretly falling in love and finally admitting they love each other was going to happen. Fortunately, that was not this book and much more did happen. The plot is intriguing; it goes places one doesn't expect. Both Catherine and Ralph are very complex characters though their personalities and actions did not leave me caring much about either of them. I had no concern as to whether either of them had a happy ending though I was intrigued as to what happened to them, if that makes sense. The greatest theme running through the book is that of Ralph who has confessed and is now accepting and living his life as penance for his past life of lust, violence and lack of family commitment. Catherine's life is similar, though she is at a different stage. One thing that bothered me was the s*x. There was lots of it. Not graphic, but what I would call descriptive and it really wasn't that, that bothered me but the constant presence of it. If the main characters were not having s*x, they were thinking about past encounters or fantasizing about present encounters and future encounters. When not doing any of those they would imagine the s*x lives of the people they passed on the street or drive by houses and wonder what s*x took place within those buildings. Not that this was a past time they did together, it was simply something within each of them that they naturally thought about all the time when they were alone. It was really overkill for me. As I've said, even though there are certain parts of the book that I did not like or that annoyed me, the plot is intriguing and meaningful. Characters are not likeable but are compelling. I'm glad to have read it. I would also most likely read another book by the author if the subject matter interested me. He does recommend a photographic book to read in his note at the end which I have put in an ILL request for which he based his atmosphere on in this book: the long, seemingly non-ending Wisconsin winters that seemed to drive people at the end of the nineteenth century to a certain kind of madness.
Date published: 2009-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great read !!! This book was very interesting a story about deceit, lies, love and lust. I really liked the character stories Ralph Truitt, Catherine Land and Antonio Truitt. I loved how Catherine starts the story with a plan and knowing exactly what and how she's going to accomplish her goals but in the end her heart leads her in a different direction and she ends up with both love and money two things she never thought she would have together. Loved the book only thing i would change if anything i would have gave it an extra chapter maybe ....
Date published: 2009-07-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Original sin How do you find a wife in 1907 in Wisconsin? You advertise, or Ralph does. Catherine Land responds. After several months of correspondance, Ralph proposes, and Catherine accepts, moving to Wisconsin. The first half of this book is sexy: both Catherine and Ralph are filled with longing, and no way to express it. It builds, the pressure rising, and I was anxious for the second half of the book to see the conclusion. Sadly, the second half was a let down. The plot turned to betrayls, and became predictable. Another reviewer made comparisons to Angelina Jolie movie Original Sin, and the comparisions are apt: good idea, second half let down.
Date published: 2009-07-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from disappointed I was looking forward to a good read since the story line sounded intriguing - however, the plot was predictable and the characters somewhat lacking. When it came to the author's references about sex and longing it became it bit much - so repetitive - the same theme repeated over and over again - the male protaginast is sex starved - we get it, already! Not a book I'd recommend.
Date published: 2009-07-17
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not great I was one of those that was disappointed. I found the sexual references gratuitous and they read more of the author's own fantasies than having any bearing on character development. Also I found the plot predictable and the novel slow paced. The book is readable, in that I read it to the end, but not a "great" read.
Date published: 2009-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A winner - for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed the plot and the writing style of this book. A book with some literacy and style. I am a little disappointed in some of the gratuitous language but that is a small point and probably a personal perspective... The story builds wells and then slows a bit in the middle as background and sub plot(s) are developed then speeds again through to a quite satisfying end. This is a book that needs you to do a little thinking and while some may say they can predict the ending... I didn't think so.
Date published: 2009-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from What a Tangled Web... One of the most unpredicatble intertwinings of seemingly seperate lives I've read in a long time. To think that people who appear to be strangers can find each other at any time, is quite remarkable, but at the turn of the last century... I'm a nut for historical drama, anyway, but that backdrop makes this one fascinating beyond what I had originally expected. Wonderful!
Date published: 2009-06-27
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed Having read the reviews, I thought I would like this book, but I must admit that I wanted more story and less psychology. The incredibly slow pace gives the reader too much time to correctly predict the outcome...there are no surprises, and the cast of characters isn't interesting enough to make it worthwhile. Quite a disappointment.
Date published: 2009-06-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A captivating narrative A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick is written in third person with the narrator going into the heads of three main characters: Ralph Truitt, Catherine Land, and Antonio Truitt. The cover attracted me most to pick up this novel, but I was not disappointed. There is a proper ending leaving the reading certain of the characters' positions. At first the narrative seems somewhat uninteresting, but as the author reveals more about the characters, the story becomes quite engaging that I had to force myself to put the book away. The prose is beautiful. I believe women eighteen and older will definitely enjoy this tale of romance. Ralph Truitt is a rich man in his forties, living in Wisconsin in 1907. His heart broke twenty years prior when he caught his wife, Emilia, cheating on him. Incapable of looking at Antonio’s resemblance to his mother, Emilia, Ralph beat his son unnecessarily until Antonio runs away. Unable to bear his lonely life any longer and regretting the terrible deeds he did to his son, Ralph advertises for 'a reliable wife.' Catherine Land answers the ad, claiming that she is 'a simple honest woman,' and soon she comes to Wisconsin in the wintertime to marry Ralph. Discover the clandestine pasts of Ralph and Catherine. Without any love for Ralph and always lying about her own identity, what intentions does Catherine have? Will Antonio ever forgive his father for ruining his childhood? Will Catherine ever truly love Ralph? 4/5
Date published: 2009-06-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sad story but.... Sad beginning, sad middle, but keeps you reading to find out if she does or doesn't. A tale of despair, but with a comforting finish.
Date published: 2009-06-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from not what I expected...both positive and negative Everyone, it seems, is raving about Robert Goolrick’s novel A Reliable Wife. Sadly, I am not going to be one of those people. I don’t mean to imply that I didn’t enjoy the book; I actually liked the book quite a lot (once I got past the first dry chapter). Still, there were elements of the book that just didn’t work for me. A Reliable Wife tells the story of Ralph Pruitt, a wealthy man who lives in Wisconsin. He’s been a widower for the past twenty years and when the story opens he is standing on the platform at the train station waiting for Catherine Land, his soon-to-be-bride. Catherine has answered Truitt’s advertisement in a St. Louis paper for ‘a reliable wife.’ It is 1907. Not all is as it seems with these two characters, though. Each has hidden agendas and secrets galore and as I read I imagined the fantastic movie this would make. Did it make a fantastic book, though, that’s the question. Well, yes and no. What did A Reliable Wife do well? It gave the reader a real glimpse into the hardships and isolation of a mid-western winter. It dealt sympathetically with the novel’s central characters: Catherine and Truitt. Truitt is especially well-drawn. He is a man who selfishly chases erotic pleasures for much of his young life, returning to the family business only after his father dies. His story unfolds a little at a time, saving one last ’secret’ for the novel’s final pages. Catherine comes to him the supposed daughter of missionaries, but her story is actually far more sordid. It gives nothing away to say that she has come to Wisconsin to marry and then murder Truitt by way of arsenic poisoning. What did A Reliable Wife do less well? At a certain point in the novel I felt like everything became melodramatic. Sub-plots did nothing to advance the story. Catherine’s sister, Alice, is introduced near the middle of the book and I know it’s meant to juxtapose her life with Catherine’s, but for me it seemed tacked on. We hear tidbits of violent crimes or horrible accidents which have happened in Truitt’s community followed by the author’s statement ”such things happen”, as if this explains all the wrong-doing in the world. Or, perhaps, to say that some things can’t be explained. Ultimately, A Reliable Wife asks the question: Is it possible to be redeemed? Truitt wants to make up for what he believes is a horrible mark against him as a father. Catherine makes a decision which changes the course of her future. Other characters hold on to their anger and bitterness and suffer a more drastic fate. There is also the question of suspense. I wouldn’t say that the book was suspenseful in the way modern readers might expect. We know from the book’s jacket that Truitt and Catherine are hiding something and so we start reading with the knowledge that not everything is as it seems. I don’t think the story is propulsive because of any so-called suspense. A lot of stuff happens and it happens at a relatively quick clip. On a few occasions (especially towards the end) I actually felt I was being told what was happening rather than watching the story unfold. One thing that totally surprised me about this book was the amount of sex in it. These are people with very real human appetites and the book does a terrific job with sensual details of all sorts: the sex is not the fade-to-black kind. Truitt’s sexual reawakening, in particular, is impressively realistic. All this to say that I enjoyed reading the book, but I didn’t feel totally satisfied when I’d finished.
Date published: 2009-05-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful style Goolrick has a smooth, eloquent style that is both beautiful and gripping. From the very first page I was capitivated; I couldn't put the book down until I finished it. A fascinating tale of the bond between strangers as well as the relationship between fathers and sons, husbands and wives. The characters are strong and secretive; they keep you guessing throughout the story. A great book for the fan of historical fiction or anyone who loves a great story.
Date published: 2009-05-15
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Emotional..I loved it This story takes place in the 19 century. ..it is about a wealthy businessman who advertised for a reliable wife. He then chooses Catherine who is a devious, complex skimmer. As the story unswines she does not count on falling in love with him.. This story is of love(that they both long for but haven't had for a long time), madness, betrayal, lies, sex , murder...This story takes place during one season..winter..cold..miserable. Just like the two main characters. Goolrick wrote a very emotional story...very happy ending.
Date published: 2009-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Unputdownable I stayed up past my usual time last night, as I couldn't put down Robert Goolrick's latest, A Reliable Wife, newly released from Harper Collins Canada. I was going to put down my thoughts first thing this morning, but was at a loss to put into words how amazing this book was. It is set in 1907 rural Wisconsin, most of it during the harsh winter. Crime, mental illness and disease seem to be part of the accepted landscape. Goolrick in his end notes cites Michael Lesy's book Wisconsin Death Trip as having a 'profound influence on the structure and genesis of his novel.' The darkness and madness of the surrounding town is referred to often, adding to the overall tone of the novel. Ralph Truit is the patriarch of the town that bears his name. He owns everything and nearly everyone works for him. He has money and power, but not the thing he craves the most, that which he has denied himself for twenty years. Female companionship - a wife. He advertises in a newspaper for ' a reliable wife.' " He had wanted a simple, honest woman. A quiet life. A life in which everything could be saved and nobody went insane." Catherine Land answers that ad, describing herself as 'a simple, honest woman'. Ralph sends for her and she arrives to become his spouse. However Catherine is not quite what she has represented herself to be. "She knew a good deal more about what was to happen than he did." " She knew the end of the story." I don't want to give away any more of the plot. But it is more complicated than it seems at first glance. Two wounded hearts, both longing for what they can't or don't have, bring these two people together, isolated in a small pocket of madness, for better or worse. The story itself is captivating, but it is the language that mesmerized me. Goolrick's writing is raw and powerful. Ralph's discourse on his wants and desires are simply beautiful. Catherine's disquistion on her life, desires and how she came to be what she is, is brutal in it's honesty. I don't know what else to say, other than I was caught up in the story from first to last page. Highly recommended!
Date published: 2009-04-03