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Editorial Reviews

Stinging needles of snow plunge rural Wisconsin into isolating despair as this erotic psychological thriller unravels in the autumn of 1907. Wealthy businessman Ralph Truitt, remote and severe, awaits his dowdy mail-order bride on a gloomy railroad platform, too restrained even to shiver in public. "I am a simple honest woman," she has written him.
When glossy-haired Catherine Land, his young wife-to-be, slips off the train, she collapses Ralph with her unexpected beauty and stillness. Ralph, in turn, shatters Catherine with his growly security and kindness. Each is deceiving the other. Tony Moretti, Ralph's ruthless estranged son, eventually sinks their schemes. A Reliable Wife is Gothic suspense, so secrets leak, blood spills, arsenic drips, and past wrongs are avenged.
Novelist Robert Goolrick knots chilling plot twists with ruined characters. Brittle Catherine buries her depraved adulthood by cloning the "manners of her fellow travelers exactly", down to cleaning her own hairbrush so maids will remark on her good breeding. She holes up in public libraries and steams through encyclopedias and card catalogs, collecting facts for her reinvention as a virginal missionary's daughter. Ralph punishes his roaring sensuality with ice water and listless dinner parties. He is a joyless grind. Love, meanwhile, bores Tony with its "lack of event...the same steady heartbeat".
Mark Feuerstein narrates A Reliable Wife in hypnotic murmurs to resist competing with Goolrick's lush, poetic language and explicit sexual dialogue. He bundles his velvety reading voice into a steady purr, lulling and tranquilizing against overwrought subtexts of hysteria. Feuerstein is unhurried, though never halting. He chronicles Catherine and Ralph's broken tangle with unadorned inflections and conspiratorial silences. Feuerstein invests his characters with authentic hearts, even if they, themselves, are not in true possession of one. —Nita Rao
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Publisher's Summary

Robert Goolrick's riveting debut novel is both foreboding and sensual. When a wealthy man first meets his mail-order bride in 1907, he realizes this statuesque beauty is anything but a "simple missionary's daughter." But he doesn't know of her devious plan to leave Wisconsin as a rich widow. Nor does she know of the furious demons he longs to unleash during the lonely months of snowbound isolation.
©2009 Robert Goolrick (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
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Critic Reviews

"A sublime murder ballad that doesn't turn out at all the way one might expect." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"This darkly nuanced psychological tale builds to a strong and satisfying close." ( Publishers Weekly)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Rebecca on 05-06-09

Strange but lovely

This book is for lovers of "literary fiction" (things like Ian McEwan though this is a much smaller scale); it's not for those looking for a mystery/thriller. The flawed protagonists drew me in and the end was satisfying.

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15 of 16 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Katydid65 on 04-30-09

Reliable Wife

I thought this was a beautiful book. It was a mystery - and it did in did dig deep into the characters past, present and maybe future. It was the old story good versus evil that live within us all. It was a story of forgiveness - of others an of oneself. The words were musical and the narrator's cadence was perfect. I could not stop listening to it. It gets an A from me - it has been a long time since I have heard such a good book.

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15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By Mayb on 10-09-15

Narrator is awful

Plot is ok but author is far too melodramatic and long in their description of everything, making the characters unrealistic and ridiculous at times.
Narrator is awful so monotone and depressing.
Glad this book was one of my free choices as I would not have liked to pay to hear it. How can it be compared to Wuthering Heights or Rebecca I do not know? Something I read when I searched for similar stories to those and it came up with this one.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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