Book Review: A Reliable Wife

A Reliable WifeA Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was pretty dark, but I really enjoyed it. Some of the plot twists were a little predictable.

The gist of the story is that a 50-something widower (Ralph Truitt) with a dark past needs a new (reliable) wife, and so takes out an ad. What he gets is not exactly what he was expecting (is it ever?). Catherine shows up with a different (and dare I say not terribly reliable) agenda.

The story is mostly set in rural Wisconsin, and apparently the winters are so bad there that people routinely just go batshit crazy & start killing each other & themselves. Since I grew up in rural South Dakota (although about 80 years after the story took place) I understand the desolation and isolation of the middle of nowhere in winter -and cabin fever can be a bit crazy-making, but mostly I was just irritated by all the insanity. One insane person = fine, whatever. All of the townspeople being one lucky breath away from killing their children/wives/selves = the author needs to either a) go visit a small town & get over it, b) get over the fact that he grew up in a small town & is now trying to create subtle imagery & allusions, or c) explain what’s in the water.

The sex was a bit silly, and I found Mr. Truitt’s pre-occupation with sex and sin to be a little much, even though I know that was supposed to make me want to think about his character & motivations a bit more. I thought the author was trying too hard to be AN IMPORTANT LITERARY FIGURE and the story sometimes got lost in his too obvious messages & metaphors.

My irritation with the author’s insistence that the townspeople are mad as hatters and his attempt to make his book really, really mean something DEEP aside, I really did like the book – it was quite a page-turner at the end.

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