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Reliable Wife (Goolrick) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews 
Reliable Wife isn't just hot, it's in heat: a gothic tale of such smoldering desire it should be read in a cold shower. This is a bodice ripper of a hundred thousand pearly buttons, ripped off one at a time with agonizing restraint. It works only because Goolrick never cracks a smile, never lets on that he thinks all this overwrought sexual frustration is anything but the most serious incantation of longing and despair ever uttered in the dead of night. ....The novel is deliciously wicked and tense, presented as a series of sepia tableaux, interrupted by flashes of bright red violence....Ultimately, this bizarre story is one of forgiveness. But the path to that salutary conclusion lies through a spectacularly orchestrated crescendo of violation and violence, a chapter you finish feeling surprised that everyone around you hasn't heard the screams, too.
Ron Charles - Washington Post


Robert Goolrick has managed a minor miracle....[A] detailed exploration of love, despair, and the distance people can travel to reach each other that is as surprising, and as suspenseful, as any beach read.
Boston Globe


The unforeseen conclusion provides a big payoff for readers of this tension-laden debut from a promising new talent. —Margaret Flanagan
Booklist


Set in 1907 Wisconsin, Goolrick's fiction debut (after a memoir, The End of the World as We Know It) gets off to a slow, stylized start, but eventually generates some real suspense. When Catherine Land, who's survived a traumatic early life by using her wits and sexuality as weapons, happens on a newspaper ad from a well-to-do businessman in need of a "reliable wife," she invents a plan to benefit from his riches and his need. Her new husband, Ralph Truitt, discovers she's deceived him the moment she arrives in his remote hometown. Driven by a complex mix of emotions and simple animal attraction, he marries her anyway. After the wedding, Catherine helps Ralph search for his estranged son and, despite growing misgivings, begins to poison him with small doses of arsenic. Ralph sickens but doesn't die, and their story unfolds in ways neither they nor the reader expect. This darkly nuanced psychological tale builds to a strong and satisfying close.
Publishers Weekly


(Starred review.) After breaking through with a disquieting memoir... Goolrick applies his storytelling talents to a debut novel, set in 1907, about icy duplicity and heated vengeance.... A sublime murder ballad that doesn't turn out at all the way one might expect.
Kirkus Reviews




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