Posted by: istop4books | March 22, 2011

A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick

I just finished this one and rather enjoyed the book. It was a quick read and a page turner which I was glad of because lately my reading has consisted of sloggers. I knew the book had mixed reviews so I was a little cautious, but it grabbed me quickly.  Having said this, I don’t think it was particularly memorable or enlightening or thoughtful, which is why it only gets 3 stars for its entertainment value and the fact that it got me out of a reading funk.

The premise of the book is a wealthy man in 1907 northern Wisconsin puts an ad in the paper for a Reliable Wife. The woman who answers is anything but.  Both have hidden agendas and a laundry list of hangups which come from their miserable childhoods and plenty of baggage which they bring to the mix.

I’m always interested in the power of parents to screw up the lives of their children. Dead or alive, parents have this huge influence on kids which seems to last forever. (and as the mother of 3 grown boys, that thought is scary!) So Catherine, Antonio and Ralph were each the product of horrific childhoods and they each coped with their lives in different ways. Sex, either giving it, selling it or wanting it was another big theme throughout the book and sort of an underlying erotic theme even when it wasn’t being blatantly described. In parts it left me wanting for more depth into the characters, especially Ralph and Antonio.

I never did wrap my head around Ralph – without spoilers – I just didn’t understand his lack of character. He was supposed to be this very strong businessman, but yet the book starts as Ralphs cowers in the train station, hoping the townsfolk of northern Wisconsin won’t talk about him? And further on in the book, I just wanted to wring his neck and breathe some life into him.

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