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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick,, 2009, * * *

Seduction, marriage, money, sex, drugs, murder... Set in rural Wisconsin in 1907, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for a “reliable wife” However, when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the simple, honest woman that Ralph is expecting. She is complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Driven by a mix of emotions and simple animal attraction, Ralph marries Catherine anyway. The story of Ralph and Catherine is wicked and tense, presented as a series of sepia tableaux, interrupted by flashes of bright red violence. Robert Goolrick's novel purports to be a suspenseful seduction set in a world that has gone temporarily off its axis.  A Reliable Wife is a nearly forensic look at love in all its incarnations, damages, deceptions, and obsessions, run through with points of light and pinned with ruinous truths.  Although I read this book in one sitting, the story is not believable, least of all the character's "over the top" raging passions. At times it reads more like a "bodice ripping" soap opera.

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