When I read the back cover copy of A Reliable Wife, I was intrigued. I was convinced that this would be a page turner that would describe romance between two ordinary people. What I found was a tale of twists and turns, a story of two manipulative people who try to one-up each other. Nothing, and no one, is what it seems to be. Instead of happiness, I found despair. Instead of light and goodness, I found darkness and sorrow.
The story is well-written and the author really gets into the minds of his characters. Although I personally did not rate this book high on my list of favorites, I none-the-less admire the author's circuitous route to reaching the end of his tale.
In 1907 when Ralph Truitt advertises for a bride, "a reliable wife", he receives numerous responses. His choice is Catherine Land who responds that she is "a simple, honest woman". From the first moment the reader meets Catherine it is evident that she is anything but a simple, yet honest, woman. She has a plan to wed and win money and security. In bits and pieces her past is revealed to the reader.
Ralph, the wealthy widower who has placed the advertisement, has plans of his own to use his new wife as a lure to bring back a prodigal son (now grown). The son wants nothing to do with the man who he claims was his father in name only.
The story is full of tragic incidents, suspicion, misplaced loyalties, near murders, beatings, deceptions, and the like. The climax is quite the thrilling scene and the idea behind the outcome proves that good does exist in all people although it is sometimes buried deeper in some than in others