Julie's Reviews > A Reliable Wife
A Reliable Wife
by Robert Goolrick
by Robert Goolrick
Feb 12, 2012
I was looking online to see how long the average dream lasts. Sounds like anywhere from 45 seconds to 45 minutes. This nightmare took me all day to read. A brooding wealthy solitaire places an ad in the newspaper for "a reliable wife" at the beginning of the 20th century. Ralph Truitt is a pillar of his rural Wisconsin community and strives to hide his infinite despair over being alone. Catherine Land shows up on a train late from Chicago as the chosen candidate for being a reliable wife. It's cold and snowy, kind of creepy, and then we find out that Catherine has sent Ralph a photo of someone else who looked reliable, not savagely beautiful like her. This is a great set up. Then the book hooked a big turn and the author went nuts on sex, desire, depravity, insanity, and it lost any sense of reality. I grew up in the Midwest and I truly think if the author would have stayed put and made it more of a psychological thriller in the tradition of Stephen King or Hitchcock this could have been awesome. But having Ralph debauching in Italy and bringing home a slut and fancy furniture from Europe blew the cold repressed austere Midwest thing. None of it made any sense to me. The characters were abysmally rotten to themselves and each other. Why would Ralph let Catherine go to St.Louis on a train alone to find his maybe son Antonio? Why did Alice hate Catherine? What was up with Larsen the handless handyman? Why couldn't Antonio carry out his own mission? For a story like this to succeed it needs to be tight. Maybe this seed of an idea would have made a killer short story. I could have cut out about 200 pages of descriptions of birds, gardens, furnishings, and hideous childhood stories. "Such things happen" unfortunately but it was like 5 cups of hot fudge on a teaspoon of ice cream. Too much of one without the balance of the other.
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