A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
Set in the harsh Wisconsin winter, entrenched in the borderline insanity of the town, and taking place just after the turn of the last century, A Reliable Wife is a story that refuses to be pigeonholed. Part romance, part mystery, part over zealous literary symbolic foray into the idea of good, evil, and forgiveness, the story moves through time and space almost effortlessly.
There is particular attention paid by author Goolrick to character development. He straddles the line of telling you just enough to make you care but not too much to keep you from truly knowing… and in this way the twists, when they come, are startling and also totally foreseeable. Through the rampant use of flashbacks (sometimes bordering on too much) Goolrick invites the reader into the hearts and minds of both husband and wife in this almost epic story of a mail order bride with a dark past and the haunted husband who has many secrets of his own.
In the end, it all comes down to the story… and despite the occasional lull in action or redundant emotional plea, this book does indeed have a gripping, moving, and highly interesting story. The excessive descriptions will delight the detail-oriented reader while the themes of love and loss will enamor the more romantic at heart big picture types.
A good title for book clubs or drowsy summer reading, a Reliable Wife will make you cherish what you have and remind you that, thankfully, winter doesn’t last forever… even in Wisconsin.