A Reliable Wife: A Novel of Intensity and Raw Power

A Reliable Wife is a novel of intensity and raw power. On its own rather masochistic terms, it offers love of the deepest kind. This novel will appeal widely, but likely most to those who crave a bold but somewhat perverse love story featuring very flawed characters. They, despite their cravenness, reach out to readers and demand notice and even grudging respect and affection. Although this novel is a certified page-turner, it can feel chaotic and contradictory due to a narrative consisting often of characters' uncensored, roiling feelings and streams of consciousness.

When wealthy businessman Ralph Truitt stood on the icy railroad platform waiting for the late train to deposit his mail order wife-to-be before him, he was expecting a woman of plain appearance with a missionary history; someone who could presumably make his house into a home and who could withstand the pressures of living in a still untamed country. That was what his ad had asked for: a reliable wife. When she disembarked the train, Catherine Land's beautiful face didn't match the picture she had sent Truitt and he told her flatly: "maybe you thought I was a fool. You were wrong". But a howling storm stopped Ralph from interrogating her there and then. And as the horses drew Truitt's carriage toward his estate in blinding snow, fate stepped in and won this woman a renewed offer to become Mrs. Truitt, which was what she wanted.

Well, more precisely, she wanted what she intended would follow shortly: widowhood and the inheritance of Truitt's amassed estate. She had brought what she needed to implement her deadly scheme. Possessed of a scandalous past she would keep secret at all costs, Catherine had so much experience with men she was confident she could murder and yet remain emotionally unencumbered. Ralph was no saint himself, but he carried an ingrained self-flagellating and resigned spirit. Wounds of love and lust had scarred him terribly two decades ago. Now alone and, for all intents and purposes, heirless at fifty-four, Ralph felt despair. He knew it wasn't unique to himself. He knew "the winters were too long," causing insanity, suicide, starvation, axe murders, and mostly silent desperation and depression.

A Reliable Wife seethes with savage passions which the author pens with an operatic flair. The prose is sometimes alarming: "He wanted to slice her open and lie inside the warm blood of her body." However, Goolrick also excels in memorable passages of a recuperative nature: as a beautiful garden scene poignantly illustrates. A Reliable Wife is a novel of intensity and raw power.


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