A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick seemed strangely familiar, but it wasn’t until I got about half way through that I realised I had already read this book, unfortunately before I started blogging.
Thank goodness for blogging. At least in future, as I get older and more forgetful, I will be able to look back through my blog to make sure I’m not just reading (and blogging about) the same book over and over. Or if I do lose my memory, I hope my over-and-over book is Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I love the movie, Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray gets to live the same day over and over until he gets it right. If I read and review Persuasion over and over and over again, eventually I might write the perfect review. (Then I would forget I had already read the book, and start all over again… )
Anyway, back to A Reliable Wife. Early on, I thought this book seemed familiar because it reminded me a little of Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. Both books are set in a similar time, in remote villages with weather conditions so harsh that the locals go mad in the winter snow and isolation, and both have a hero who is desperate for love and sex.
Then it hit me. I’d already read the damn thing.
Okay, for those of you who haven’t read A Reliable Wife at all, the story starts with Ralph Truitt advertising in a newspaper for a wife. Ralph is in his fifties, filthy rich, and desperate for human touch. As a young man he fell in love with and married an Italian woman who messed around on him, so he cast her out, then spent twenty years alone.
Catherine Land answered Ralph’s ad, and agreed to come to Ralph’s home in Wisconsin and marry him. From the moment Catherine throws away her red dress on the train and dons a drab, home-made sack, it is clear that she has a past which she doesn’t want Ralph to know about. Ralph sees through her right away, but luckily for Catherine, she has an opportunity to prove her worth when he has a serious accident. After she nurses him back to health, they marry.
Next comes the big twist, which I won’t tell you about. If, like me, you’re on your second read of A Reliable Wife, you’ll probably remember what happens next at about this point anyway. And if you haven’t, but decide to read this book, then what happens next will be a surprise.
I read Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick earlier this year. There seems to be a pattern to the morals in this author’s stories, that is; messing around on your spouse is not a good idea.
Some of the sentences and phrases in A Reliable Wife are beautifully expressed, but I got tired of the characters being so desperate for sex. And when they got it, I got tired of hearing about how they did it. (Funny, but I never get tired of chocolate. I can eat it, smell it, read about it, cook with it, even look at pictures of it all day).
I think the idea of A Reliable Wife was good, but since it was the author’s first novel he probably needed more practice at leaving out the unnecessary parts of the story. Heading Out to Wonderful was better. I have high hopes of Robert Goolrick getting a third novel just right.