Tuesday, May 5, 2020

A Reliable Wife

A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick

Set in cold northern Wisconsin in the early 1900s, A Reliable Wife is the story of many people from various backgrounds who share something in common: miserable childhoods lacking in love and nurturing. Wealthy businessman Ralph Truitt asks for "a reliable wife" to come join him in the far-flung north, and Catherine Land claims she fits that bill.

I don't usually read books that get less than 3.5 in Goodreads ratings, but I found this on our bookshelves. Since the library is closed right now, I've been taking this opportunity to read through some of the books we actually own...and I forgot to look up the review on Goodreads first.

Furthermore, in the past couple of years I have made a concerted effort to read mostly authors who are women and people of color. I hesitated before choosing this book, because it doesn't fit that category.

Last night I revisited my decision when I realized that ALL of the women in the book--Ralph Truitt's mother, his first wife, and then Catherine herself--were horrible and completely unredeemable. I questioned whether I should keep reading. But I then I realized that, in fact, all of the characters were unlikable...not just the women.

I couldn't sleep last night (coroninsomnia), so I stayed up and read (and finished) the book. The main characters grew on me and I became more concerned about what happened to them in the end.

Goolrick is a talented writer, but I must confess that at times I found myself scanning through the text. Something about his writing style reminded me of Hemingway, not one of my favorites. Overall, though, an interesting story about deeply unhappy, unloved people. If that sounds appealing to you, give it a try. I think I need something a bit more cheery next!

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