Country businessman seeks
Compelled by practical,
not romantic reasons.
Reply by letter.
Ralph Truitt. Truitt , Wisconsin .
The above ad is the catalyst for Robert Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife. Ralph Truitt is searching for a woman to share his life with. Desparate after years of lonliness, he finally places an ad in the paper for a partner. We learn right away that the respondant, Catherine Land, is not the person she pretends to be. She is hiding some dark secrets, but something has driven her to seek refuge as Ralph Truitt’s wife.
Goolrick doesn’t try to hide his character’s secrets as much as is normal for a mysterious book like this. Catherine and her lover show their hands very quickly and although there is a sense of suspense throughout the book, with the reader wondering what will happen next, everything is laid out fairly quickly. I didn’t have a problem with Goolrick’s method of telling this story, but I think it could be a downer for some. It can be kind of problematic in the sense that the plot unfolds so quickly that I can’t really write too much of a synopsis.
As for the characters, I am not sure how I felt about any of them. It was hard not to pity Ralph. He is extremely hard on himself, especially when it comes to his sexuality. He was raised by a straitlaced mother who was consumed by the idea of sin and hell, which led Ralph to chastise himself as he grew older for being a sexual being. It was sickening how much he beat himself up over his lust. This became even more of an issue when Catherine came into the picture because she is beautiful and Ralph has a difficult time responding to that.
As for Catherine and her lover—they seemed a little two dimensional to me. Catherine seems to battle with herself for almost the whole book. She goes back and forth between her lover and Ralph and what each one meant to her and expected of her. Although she made right choices and wrong choices, at times it seemed there wasn’t much passion and life there. I felt this way even more so with the lover. He just didn’t seem real to me. And then his interactions with Ralph—I just didn’t buy it!
The reviews for A Reliable Wife seem to be very hot or very cold. It appears to have been a resounding success among my fellow bloggers. The majority of the blogger reviews I read not only loved this book, but some counted it among their favorites of year or even as one of their all-time favorites. The Amazon reviews are the exact opposite, with some of the reviewers referring to A Reliable Wife as a bodice ripper. I found myself to be in the middle of the two. I enjoyed A Reliable Wife and found it very readable. I would recommend it to others despite some of its flaws. I enjoyed reading it, but I didn’t love it and I definitely didn’t hate it. It’s a different type of historical fiction, so that is refreshing, and I found the premise interesting.
I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble