Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: A Reliable Wife

Title A Reliable Wife
By Robert Goolrick
Genre Adult drama
Pages 305
Rating ⭐️⭐️

It's 1909, Ralph Truitt places an ad in the paper. He's looking for a wife. Someone to come out to rural Wisconsin and share his home but he has an ulterior motive. Catherine Land answers the ad. She seems like the perfect humble, reliable wife but she too has secret.

First Sentence 
It was bitter cold, the air electric with all that had not happened yet.

  • Wow, that book was a New York Times Bestseller? And it had a readers guide in the back. Sometimes I'm quite baffled by books like this. How and why is this a New York Times Bestseller? Why is it being read in book clubs? Is it really worthy of having a readers guide included? 
  • Now, don't get me wrong. I didn't loathe this book or anything. I just wasn't blown away by it. The writing was lovely at times. Check out that first sentence. Very lovely. But this whole book was like watching a soap opera. The characters were terrible people. They were meant to be but it was painful to read about. 
  • So, the whole point of the book was about how nobody is perfect. We're all pretty awful people; flawed and imperfect but that we can change. While I appreciated the message and the symbolism of Catherine's obsession with the garden I thought the whole thing was pretty heavy handed and more than that, it wasn't subtle at all. We all got the message. There was nothing left to interpret on our own. Nope! We had to just take the slap in the face message from the author and accept it. 
  • So, yeah, I didn't hate the book but it was blunt and dull and just plain weird. 
  • Maybe in another mood I might have loved it. But right now at this point in my life it just didn't work for me. 
Should You Read It?
I wouldn't shut this one down completely but I would warn those that might consider it to be warned. There's a lot of sexual talk and descriptions. Nothing gratuitous like erotica but, yeah. 


  1. I HATE slap in the face morals!! So is there something awful, scandalous, and shocking about Catherine or is she just a regular flawed person? I'm trying to figure out the intrigue here.

    1. Do you want me to spoil it? If so read on. Catherine grew up selling her body for money. She and her lover have a plan for her to go marry Mr Truitt and then slowly poison him. (Mr Truitt is very, very wealthy) Then there's the whole secret of who the lover is etc. So, yeah.

  2. This is one of those books that I kept on my tbr shelves for years (literally). I think I got it when I was part of Doubleday Book Club (it's so funny to think of time when I didn't have hundreds of unread books, but honestly, I used to have trouble finding books to read). But, because I had so many books, I've done a few cullings of my physical books and this one didn't make the cut. Now I'm super glad I let it go.

  3. I had a feeling you'd come out of the reading feeling the same way I did. I read A Reliable Wife as an ARC and I remember thinking the first 50 pages were amazing - beautifully written with an exciting event that really drew me in. After that, it went downhill and I never could figure out why people were so excited about it. I absolutely hated the ending - so over-the-top. I read Goolrick's next book and felt exactly the same way about it. It started out with a lovely setting, three-dimensional characters, and a solid storyline. And then it just got bloody and flat-out nuts. I won't read him, again, period.

    1. Good to know. I won't give any more books of his a shot.

  4. I've picked this one up a couple of times and just couldn't do it. I've come to be suspicious of historical fiction written by someone who obviously was not alive during the time they're writing about. The authors try so hard to be 'authentic' that it ends up sounding forced and phony. I'd much rather read something from Edith Wharton or F Scott Fitzgerald who both experienced the early 1900s first hand.

    1. I didn't mind the historical part of it. I just couldn't like any of the characters.

  5. All I remember was this book was DARK. You are right about nothing redeeming in any of the characters. Now I have to go look up my review... OK, I liked the beginning and 'meh' to the second half.

  6. The synopsis kind of appealed to me (I'm in the mood for some historical romance right now), but given your review maybe I'll try something else first! And I totally know what you mean by random book club guides in the back of some books. Some of them are just downright confusing.