A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Title: A Reliable Wife
Author: Robert Goolrick
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1565129771
Date read: January 5, 2010

The bookstore where I work received an advance reader copy of this novel a few weeks before it was released in paperback.  The time period (1907) and location (Wisconsin) rather than the storyline is what prompted me to take the book home.  If you’re looking for a quick, roller-coaster ride of a read, pick up this book.  It’s currently #1 on the NYT best-seller list.

I was on the fence during the first two chapters and then suddenly I couldn’t put the book down and finished it in less than 24 hours (and I’m not a particularly fast reader). This story about the intertwining lives of three characters reads like a grand, sweeping narrative. I found myself talking to the characters, arguing with them not to do this or instead to do that. And every time I thought I knew where the book was headed, something unexpected but completely in line with the characters’ motivation would happen and throw me off course…and keep me turning the pages. Goolrick is a master at character development–I really felt the pain, hopes, and desires of each character, even the minor characters. One reviewer claims that there’s gratuitous sex, but I disagree. The sex is completely in line with the characterizations and simply part of the landscape of the story.  I look forward to Goolrick’s next novel.

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