A Reliable Wife is set in Wisconsin in 1907. Ralph Truitt is a local, wealthy businessman who advertised in a Chicago newspaper for “a reliable wife.” Catherine Land answered the advertisement, and sets in motion a plot to poison her husband.
The novel is marred by heavy-handed prose that aims to be literary, but isn’t. A really depressing theme and plot does not make a novel great. Actually, I got really, really bored by the obsessive way in which Goolrick describes things. An entire chapter on waiting for a train? Really? A hallmark of a great novel is one in which the theme is subtle, but powerful, and makes you think about it long after you’ve read the book; in this one, Goolrick hits his reader on the head—over and—over—with his theme.
Ralph Truitt’s obsession with sex becomes tiresome by page 30, and the plot is filled with some major gaps. Why would Ralph hire someone to find his son, but not have them check into his wife’s past, for example? Was it just me, or did the author plagiarize scenes from other novels? The novel is billed as suspense, but it’s hard to see such in a novel where one of the main character’s motives are displayed right from the get-go—heck, even in the blurb on the back of the book!
Don’t take my word for it though. There are plenty of people who loved this book. It just wasn’t for me.
Also reviewed by: A Garden Carried in the Pocket, Literate Housewife Review, Estella's Revenge