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A Reliable Wife

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  71,611 ratings  ·  9,844 reviews
He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for "a reliable wife." She responded, saying that she was "a 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 her a wealthy widow, able to take care of the one she t ...more
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published March 31st 2009 by Algonquin Books (first published 2009)
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Elizabeth Monteleone It seems that way....that's why i was sorta meh on it.
Brenda The book is mainly set in rural Wisconsin. Some parts take place in St. Louis, and a couple parts in Chicago, but mostly it's set in rural Wisconsin.…moreThe book is mainly set in rural Wisconsin. Some parts take place in St. Louis, and a couple parts in Chicago, but mostly it's set in rural Wisconsin. (less)
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3.26  · 
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 ·  71,611 ratings  ·  9,844 reviews

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Jan 18, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: never-read-again
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tara Chevrestt
They say that men think about sex approximately every seven seconds. This book mentions sex approximately every seven seconds and seeing the author is male, I no longer question the seven second theory. The storyline is a pretty good idea. Man places an ad in the paper for a reliable wife. Woman responds with hidden intentions of killing the man slowly with arsenic, making herself a wealthy widow. However, upon meeting the man's son, her plans may or may not change. The son addition may shock so ...more
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: g-hr
Actual rating: 1.5 stars generously rounded up to 2

There are some spoilers.

This novel centers around Ralph Truitt, a man who's been wronged many times — and his misfortunes are far from over. Mind you, Truitt isn't a saint, but in this reader's opinion he doesn't deserve what happens to him in this novel.
It all starts when Truitt puts an ad in the paper looking for a "reliable wife". But the women he comes to marry is anything but reliable. (She's also a faithless scheming bitch, but more on tha
Dec 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Even though I have alredy sent this, I am updating for my Best of 2009 list:

This was a terrific novel with the gothic feel of past novels such as REBECCA and the recent THIRTEENTH TALE. In 1907 Catherine Land answers an ad for a “reliable wife” to the wealthy businessman Ralph Truitt. He knows nothing of her sordid past nor does he have any idea of her plans, which is to leave rural Wisconsin a wealthy widow (in her suitcase is a small blue bottle filled with a nasty substance). But what gets in
Feb 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
Halfway through this book, sick of every character having a wanton, unquenchable libido, I wanted to shout at Goolrick, "If you want some that bad, get some and then come back to the story." It wasn't raunchy or descriptive or anything like that. It was just an undertone that tainted the novel with an erotic feel. I didn't question one lustful character with a history of excessive sleeping around, but every single one was a bit much. I will give Goolrick credit that despite this being historical ...more
May 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
I kindled this book, inspired by a stormy Friday night home alone, hoping for a romantic transportation to a Wisconsin winter a century ago. The premise is good, some fellow, (a rich rural industrialist) advertises for a reliable wife and this female character turns up much prettier than the picture she sent, but that is just the least of her deception. Anyway, on it goes, murky pasts and dramatic ongoings, but soon I found myself realizing that this book was a hollow, repetitious, skeletal fram ...more
At first I was drawn to this book because of it's apparent similarities to the movie, Original Sin, which I happen to love and think is both dark and sexy - hey, it's a guilty pleasure. This book though, is a lot different from what I originally imagined it would be. It's incredibly well-written, dark and poetic, sexy, disturbing, and sad. I was surprised at some of the twists and turns the story took and I have to say I was pleasantly misled into thinking I knew what was going on. This is one o ...more
j e w e l s
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book just made it into my TWISTER HALL OF FAME at

If you’re in the mood for a quick easy read, you might want to skip this one. A Reliable Wife deserves your time to digest, enjoy, study. Filled with symbolism and theme, it is one of my all time favorite books. It is a suspenseful, plot twisted story that takes place in the early American 1900’s. The setting is isolated, cold and creepy and the characters are wholly unpredictable. At the heart of the story is a smolder
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
How does one go about finding the most unreliable wife, since, well, ever, while looking for her complete opposite? Mr Ralph Truitt is giving the ultimate workshop on wifeal alchemy!

Reasonable writing (though, editing… tsk!) and plot that could have been partially inspired by the movie 'Original Sin' (which I happen to love!). Overall sensual enough to be non-sensical.

A slightly deranged sex-starved male protagonist:
Q: Sex was all he thought about in the dark. …
In every house, he thought with
Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)
I loved this book. It is set in Wisconsin in the early 1900's, it is historical fiction, mystery, plotting, sexual tension and incredible characters all rolled into one. By it's title it could easily be passed by had I not had very enthusiastic recommendations.

It is a page turner from the beginning until the very last page and it is never actually what you think it is going to be !!

Ralph Truitt is the capitalist in a small town in Wisconsin where his companies employ most everyone an his product
Mar 25, 2009 rated it liked it
I waited two days from the time I finished this to update my review. In all seriousness, I could not decide between three and four. I couldn't figure out if I loved it or liked it.

There were certain parts that I thought warranted five stars, but others that I simply didn't care for. The opening scene of Ralph Truitt waiting for the train, with the whispering town all around him was so evocative, desperate, and beautiful. The parts in St. Louis after Catherine Land found Truitt's son dragged on
Jessica S.
Dec 29, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The story had potential, even though it's been done a hundred times. A lonely, rich man places an ad in the paper for "a reliable wife," and a beautiful, mysterious woman answers, with the hidden intent of killing him and taking his fortune.

The main problem I had with this book was the length--it could have easily been cut in half had the author not felt the need to repeat and over-elaborate on every little detail. It took an immense amount of discipline not to fast forward through every other
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow... okay, this book got darker and darker, and basically delivered a gut punch that left me reeling and feeling a little sick! BUT at the same time, it was beautifully written -- even as the characters did some extremely ugly things. Some of my overwhelmed-sick-gut-punch feelings might have to do with how I gulped down more than half the book in one sitting (but this also speaks to its addictive readability!). The twists are classic/familiar ones, but I felt were combined in such a way as to ...more
Jan 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
I know they say sex sells, but this was ridiculous. If they weren’t doing the deed, they were talking about it, or thinking about it, or it was just lingering in the air somehow. That by itself didn’t make this a bad novel. It just lacked so much substance and the intrigue I was hoping for. It’s like the author relied on sex to make up for a badly executed novel.

The premise of A Reliable Wife sounded intriguing. It’s the early 1900’s. A guy puts an ad in for “a reliable wife” and, indeed, gets
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick,

ISBN 9781565125964, Algonquin Books

$23.95, March 2009

With A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick has given us a rare treat, a story so good we are loathe to start another book for fear it will fail utterly in comparison.

It is 1907 and Ralph Truitt is seeking a wife. Catherine Land is the woman who answers his call. In the midst of a swirling snowstorm, she steps off of the train and into his life. She is not what he expected. Nor is he as naïve as she had hoped.
Jan 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read this novel in one day, my first novel of 2010, and I could not put it down. It is the type of novel that gets under your skin and is difficult to shake for several days. It was a unique story, the characters were extremely compelling, and the atmosphere was very dark and Gothic. If this novel was ever made into a movie, I would expect it to be set in perpetual snow and gray fog.

Other reviewers here have set forth the main story here so I won't reiiterate it. I agree with those who said t
May 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Beautifully written emotions of loss, love and redemption. The plot is well woven and exciting you take a step into the darkness of the heart and of their mistakes and losses of love and finding of new love and chances of redemption. You really want love to be found and the relationship to work for the two main characters but also you anticipate who will be killed off an enjoyable easy read, atmospheric set in rural Wisconsin 1907 during bitter cold snow.
Stacey Nerdin _Scenic Life Designs
Intense. Atmospheric (has been compared to Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, and I can see that). Sooooo good. Some of the sexual content will not be for everyone, and tipped my own scales in terms of comfort level, but I could not let this story go. Or maybe it couldn't let me go. You just get so consumed by what is going on. I *had* to know how it would end.
Nov 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick, is the story of how Catherine Land answers a rather pathetic sounding classified ad placed by a lonely, tormented rich man. From the beginning of her correspondence with him, Catherine is up to no good at all: she plans on slowly poisoning Ralph Truitt and having his fortune for herself.

Automatically, I expected this tale to turn into one of those beautiful, gradual love stories in which Catherine falls in love with Ralph and realizes the dream of having bot
Mar 07, 2011 rated it did not like it
In a word: horrible.

It's been awhile since I read a book this bad. In fact, I may never have read a book this bad.

Such things happen.

A Reliable Wife starts out slow and never picks up speed. The contrived, implausible, paper-thin plot took about 70 pages to develop. A wealthy, unhappy middle-aged man advertises for a wife. The rest of the story is filled with wordy sentences, rambling narratives, stumbling dialogue, plot inconsistencies and one-dimensional characters so undeveloped and uninteres
Apr 03, 2013 added it
Shelves: junk

Read, read, skim skim skim, read, skim skim, read, skim read. Oh dear. I found this book hilarious, which is certainly not what the author intended. Enough already after ten pages. I get the point: the guy is damaged and lonely. Enough already about snow, enough already about libraries, enough already about oysters and champagne. Even enough already about sex. Could never have imagined sex scenes could be this boring and repetitious.

Sorry for any spoilers that follow, but I couldn’t care less.

Apr 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jackie by: April 2009 IndieNext list
This book, the #1 IndieNext list pick for April 2009, is an infinite loop of love turning to hate and hate turning to love and what all that kinetic passion does to the people who experience it. Set mainly in rural Wisconsin in the depths of the winter of 1907, this is a story of a wealthy man and his mail-order bride at it's very basic root. Both of these people have dark histories that they are trying to forget--or are they? They are strangers to each other--or are they? All that is true in th ...more
Kim H
Mar 08, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A decent, engrossing read, but it's really not anything unique. It's a little bit Michael Lesy's Wisconsin Death Trip (which Goolrick cites as the inspiration), and a lot Cornell Woolrich's Waltz Into Darkness, which inspired the 2001 film Original Sin with Antonio Banderas and Angelina Jolie. If you're acquainted with any of these works, you'll be in familiar territory here.
Just cutting to the chase - the storyline is predictable and the ending a little unsettled. It's not wholly without merit
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me quite some time ago by family members, but the time never seemed right to read it. This week, though, as I needed a new book and nothing on my TBR bookshelf appealed to me, I remembered this book and decided to give it a try. I'm very glad I did.

Goolrick has an almost poetic way with the language and builds suspense beautifully in this, his first, novel. It is a very gothic tale. As I was reading it, for some reason I kept thinking of Edgar Allan Poe, and the poem
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
This was an ok read. That was clear from the second chapter. I would call this American Gothic. It is dark, dealing with the historical time and the relationships involved.
The richest man in town seeks and finds a wife through a personal ad. What he gets is a woman with her own agenda. There are back stories and subplots that do tie together eventually. Instead of allowing the sexual tension to build as a natural part of the plot, the author took an in your face approach. When I finished the b
Sarah Mac
I can't do it, y'all. Miserable people are miserable...and this book is determined to discuss every nuance of that misery, which is almost entirely rooted in abnormally high libido. It's just SILLY.

Truly, I've got nothing against unpleasant people as major players in great books. Some of my favorite characters are undeniably obnoxious -- or even villainous. Scarlett in Gone With the Wind. Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Beatrice in Wideacre. Jaime in Game of Thrones. Erzebet in The Blood Co
I am so good at only reading when I have time but this time I stayed up all night, I did not want to put it down, I was captivated from the very beginning and that feeling never went away. Even the ending was as good as the rest of it, and I am convinced that endings are the most difficult part of a book to write.
A lonely wealthy man in Wisconsin advertises for "a reliable wife". His ad is answered, a correspondence ensues and then she finally arrives on the train. But who is she really and what
2 stars: "It was okay."

Well written, but I wanted more gothic trappings--more twists and turns, more creaking stairwells, more sinister secrets--but instead, this book is largely about a middle-aged man ruminating on sex.

And the last thing the world needs is another book about an aging white dude's sex life!
Wow. This story was really…..different. I felt conflicted the whole time I was reading it. One minute enjoying it, the next not so much. I knew going into this that it was going to be a dark story. I had read a few reviews beforehand and knew that some people thought it was gratuitous and raunchy. Yeah. There is a HUGE sex theme running throughout the story. And I’m not talking about sweet romance kinda lovin’. It’s raw, in your face, raunchy, and even creepy at times. I thought it was too much, ...more
May 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
I picked this book up at the library because of Sara Gruen's (author of Water for Elephants) comment on the front cover- "Astonishing, complex, beautifully written, and brilliant." Okay, so I haven't read Water for Elephants yet but it's been highly recommended and I have it on my shelf. I figured if Sara Gruen was touting this book, it must be pretty good.

Oh my, it was not what I expected. I have never read those "dime a dozen" romance novels whose covers feature a beautiful woman in a fancy p
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La Crosse Public ...: A Reliable Wife 1 2 Jan 23, 2019 09:22AM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Fiction, wife tries to poison husband... [s] 3 26 Dec 30, 2016 01:22AM  
Play Book Tag: A Reliable Wife / Robert Goolrick - 4**** 5 18 Apr 28, 2016 05:03PM  
A Million More Pages: A Reliable Wife: Jun 13 42 21 Jun 18, 2015 07:10PM  
Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 3 Feb 20, 2015 08:49AM  

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