A Reliable Wife (Review)

September 15, 2010

Book cover for "A Reliable Wife" by Robert Goolrick.Title: A Reliable Wife

Author: Robert Goolrick

Narrator: Mark Feuerstein

Publication Year: 2009

Pages: 320 (audio length: 8 hours 54 minutes)

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Source: Purchased audiobook from Audible.com

From the cover:

He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for “a reliable wife.” She responded, saying that she was “a simple, honest woman.” She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only simple thing about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving her a wealthy widow, able to take care of the one she truly loved.

What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own. And what neither anticipated was that they would fall so completely in love.

Filled with unforgettable characters, and shimmering with color and atmosphere, A Reliable Wife is an enthralling tale of love and madness, of longing and murder.

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book when I picked it up. It had been added to my wishlist a long time ago after seeing great reviews on a bunch of book blogs, and then I promptly forgot about it until I saw the title on sale on Audible a month or so back. I really didn’t know much about what the book was about, beyond the part about the newspaper advertisement for “a reliable wife”. That alone intrigued me, so I went with it.

Goolrick’s novel took me by surprise. It wasn’t a typical chick-lit historical romance; the characters were far too nuanced and were driven by more complicated desires than is normal for this kind of love story. Truitt and Catherine both had rather big pasts and secrets driving them forward, which they not only kept from each other but which were, in part, instrumental forces in carving out their lives together. I liked the way that character exposition and development occurred in A Reliable Wife: both of the main characters grew in ways that were both realistic and astounding, and even though I didn’t particularly like either of them at the beginning of the story, I found myself rooting for them nearer to the end.

At first, I wasn’t too sure about the narrator for this audiobook: it was strange hearing the inner thoughts of a woman in a man’s voice. In the end, though, Feuerstein won me over: it somehow seemed to work, since his voice would change slightly depending on the character’s perspective he was telling the story from, and what was going on in the novel at that point. I would probably love this book just as much in written form, but the audio version wasn’t too shabby.

There are more twists and turns than you could possibly expect, but it all comes together to create one hell of an interesting piece of writing. A Reliable Wife is a love story, a murder story, and a family tragedy all rolled up into one book, and I loved it. I think that you probably will, too.

Rating:

7 Comments

  • Danya September 15, 2010 at 11:04 pm

    Ooooh, I really like the sound of this book’s premise! Sounds like it’s full of lots of character development 🙂

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      It definitely is! It’s been one of the best books I’ve read so far this year in terms of development; most of the time, characters stay pretty much the same from start to end.

  • zibilee September 16, 2010 at 9:13 am

    I bought this book for my birthday in February, but haven’t had the chance to read it yet. At first, all the reviews I read were very positive, but the later reviews seemed to veer more towards the negative side. All the varying opinions on it makes me want to read the book all the more and figure out how I feel about it! Great review and I am glad you liked it!

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      I would definitely go for it! Even if you don’t particularly end up liking it, it’s still a really interesting read.

  • Amy September 16, 2010 at 11:45 am

    I’ve heard a lot about this book, but have yet to pick it up. Sounds like you enjoyed it, which is good!

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