Joyce's Reviews > A Reliable Wife

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
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Feb 18, 10

Read in February, 2010

"It was bitter cold, the air electric with all that had not happened yet." That's the opening sentence for Robert Goolrick's novel, "A Reliable Wife", set in 1907 in the fictional town of Truitt, Wisconsin.

An astounding book. I read it in a day because I could not put it down. I picked it up from the library because of the Wisconsin setting, expecting sort of a run of the mill story of a mail-order bride, leaving Chicago and moving to the "north woods". It is that, but that's the least of it! It's a mesmerizing story of two characters, Catherine Land and Ralph Truitt, who are not at all what they seem to be. They're not terribly likable characters, but they do have mystery at their cores. Both are hiding something, or many things, and both are ready to re-invent themselves. The author does a masterful job of peeling back the layers, gradually exposing more emotion, more of the past, bringing in other characters to flesh out the story. I really can't say more about the plot without giving away key plot turns. Lies and lust are primary plot movers, so be aware that this is not for every reader!

What a stunning meditation on despair, love, hate, regret, hope, redemption... all the big things that we deal with, or don't deal with, in our lives. This is Goolrick's first work of fiction and I think he may as well lay down the pen, or take his hands off the keyboard. Maybe go on to another genre? I don't see how in the world he can follow this! Hats off, bows all around. Honestly though, I do hope he's writing more as I cannot wait to read the output. Goolrick has written one other book, "The End of the World as we Know It: scenes from a life", a memoir that is also available through our MORE library system.

(2/24/10: edited to match review sent to Hay River REVIEW.)
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