A reliable wife by Robert Goolrick

This is my very first post in English, my old pals!  What a challenge since I’m not practising very often anymore and my English is a little rusty. Anyway, here we go ! And, by the way, big work.

I red ALL Goolrick’s books, because after reading his memoir The end of the world as we know it, (recommended to me by Christine L), I liked very much his style. Until now he has written  three books ; this one was his first, published in the US in 2009. In French, title is Une femme  simple et honnête (titles change so much from a language to another…)

I would say that at the end of the three books , I was in shock. I was in shock for a moment, I felt completely knocked out. The author has a real talent, an obvious talent to make his choices with strong topics. Also, I can say that A reliable wife it is not my favorite because the plot is a little confuse with some dark points, but I recognize the way Goolrick wrote a gripping story is just amazing.

The plot runs in Wisconsin,  in 1907 during an endless and pretty rough winter. It’s a typical ghotic novel with horror and romance, plus a modern touch with pages and pages of sex and lust. It’s based on 3 complex characters: Ralph Truitt a 58 years- old rich widower torn with guilty feelings and consumed with thoughts of loneliness and sexual frustration; his new wife Catherine Land, 24, who is not at all a reliable wife, but rather an unreliable wife and Ralph’s stranged son of his first wife, Tony Moretti,who is the personification of evil with no possible redemption. Ralph Truitt made his son paid for the sins of his mother and feel guilty for the way he treated him. Guilt is the driving force of the story. There is another strong character in the plot, Mrs Larsen, who is Mr Truitt’s maid. There is a real suspense going all through the novel.

There is so much violence about feelings in the book, lot of descriptions about lust and sex, but also about flowers and birds : maybe Mr. Goolrick’s idea was a kind of balance between too much  sex and another  topic less nasty for the readers. As I sayed, topics are strong: lies, deceit, loneliness, forgiveness, madness, violence, revenge. This is Goolrick’s world of deception, obsession, lost lives and redemption.

We read this refrain like a judgement and a curse  » these things happen« .

It seems that R. Goolrick inspired himself in Winsconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy (1973),where  madness during endless winters in Wisconsin, is a reality. Here we have the explanation about all this sudden madness around people.

I also red somewhere that A reliable wife could be a good rip-off  from the plot of the film Original Sin with Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas ( Michael Cristofer, 2001). Also some people found some similarity between Rebecca by Daphné du Maurier and the character of Mrs Larsen dealing with the ghost of his previous wife.

In such a case A reliable wife could be a clever combination of the classic novel Rebecca and the movie Original Sin. And for God’s  Sake ! The book ‘s name could  be as well  An unreliable wife !

Such things happen…

A RELIABLE WIFE, Abacus 2010 -GB (Algonquin Books 2009- USA), ISBN  978-0-349-12236-6


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