A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick (REVIEW)
Jan. 2010. 320p. Algonquin Books, paperback, $7.56
(978-1565129771). Historical Fiction
The back of the book describes it as such: "He placed a notice in a Chicago paper, an advertisement for a 'reliable wife.' She responded, saying that she was 'a simple, honest woman.' She was, of course, anything but honest, and the only thing simple about her was her single-minded determination to marry this man and then kill him, slowly and carefully, leaving herself a wealthy widow. What Catherine Land did not realize was that the enigmatic and lonely Ralph Truitt had a plan of his own."
It sounded harmless enough. Maybe romantic suspense? Guy puts an ad in the paper, girl shows up with an agenda, but falls in love.
That's what I thought, but boy was I wrong!
If I could rewrite the back of the book, it would be a much more accurate description: "Trifling harlot and her illegitimate lover find a personal ad placed by a wealthy business owner who happens to be the husband of the lover's late mother. The harlot marries the wealthy business man, plotting to kill him slowly and share his money with her lover."
Imagine self-centered Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights, add to each a repulsively over-the-top sex obsession and you have A Reliable Wife characters, Ralph, Cathrine and Antonio. This bodice ripper is bogged down with boring and repetitive narration that made it painful to trudge through. About 3/4 of the way through I stopped reading and started scanning, desperate to find something positive. The mediocre ending made me wish I would have put the book down hours before I actually did.