Book Review ~ A Reliable Wife

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Table of Contents

A Reliable WifeA Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

SUMMARY (source: Busy Moms Who Love To Read)
Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for “a reliable wife.” But when
Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she’s not the “simple, honest woman” that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man’s devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

My overall reaction was “what a strange story”. As part of the Busy Moms Who Love To Read monthly book club, I read this novel. The story is set in the early 1900s and deals with a variety of classes from the very poor to the wealthy.

The characters seem to be all victims of their circumstances and none really took responsibility for their decisions and situations.

Ralph Truitt had no sense of responsibility as a youth, had too much responsibility as a widow and to much forgiveness as an older man.

Antonio followed in Ralph’s youthful ways but never got an opportunity to develop past that stage.

Catherine didn’t really have an identity as she morphed to be who or what was required to survive. There were also a lot of secrets – too many that came about choppily through the novel. Yes, they made the characters more accessible but they weren’t enough to grab this readers interest or attention.

Book Club discussion questions:
1.  On a scale of 1 (lamer than lame) and 5(super fantastic) rate the following:
         1. Style of Writing – 3.5 out of 5
         2. Development of Characters –  3.5 out of 5
         3. Flow of storyline – 3 out of 5
         4. Over all book – 2 out of 5

2. This book is largely about forgiveness, do you think the actions of Truitt are forgivable? 
Forgivable from whom? I could definitely see who Antonio would harbour resentment and contempt for a father who beat him as a child. Truitt himself, realizing his actions were wrong, should be allowed to repent and then forgive himself (as he attempted to do by asking Antonio to come back). Catherine didn’t really have a place to forgive as it wasn’t her who was directly affected by the act.

3. What was your most favorite part?
I thought it was intriguing to discover that Antonio and Catherine were in cahoots together.

4. What was your least favorite part?
I didn’t like the tone of the novel. It’s hard to put my finger on but the fact that the whoring and drug-taking of the poor in the city contrasted to the wealth and enormous house that wasn’t being inhabited because of bad memories in the country were unsettling to me. It seemed wasteful and unmindful, perhaps selfishness of the wealthy and ignorance to the needs of those of less fortune.

5. What did you “not see coming”?
That Antonio and Truitt were able to make some strides in their relationship.

6. What are your thoughts on the concept of the winter driving people insane? 
I could definitely appreciate that. Isolation does strange things to people.

7. What is your take on Mrs. Larsen?
I wished some of her story were shared, both past and with the husband when he cut off his own hand. It was hard to understand her history with Truitt as it was only alluded to but it would have been interesting.

8. Goolrick has another book in print – The End of the World as We Know it, do you think you would read it?
No. I wasn’t that impressed with this book.

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Elizabeth Ruth

Elizabeth is a children's book author and designer of knit and crochet character hats under the brand The Ruthless Crafter. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, spend time with her family, and swim. She lives a full, happy life in Kitchener, Ontario with her husband and their two children.

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1 Comment

  1. I'd never even heard of this book. After reading your review, I guess I know why.

    By the way, I love the picture in your blog header. It seems comfortingly familiar to me.

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