Told in two parts, A Reliable Wife is about the arranged marriage between Ralph Truitt and Catherine Land. I gave this book 3.5 stars which I rounded up to 4 stars on Goodreads.
As I read, I went through a myriad of reactions in response to Ralph and Catherine. Ralph at times would evoke sympathy in me and then in the next paragraph I would be appalled at what he was remembering or thinking. The same thing would happen when I would read things from Catherine's point of view. Ralph really wants to be loved and though Catherine doesn't realize it at first, she just wants to be loved too. Both characters have a huge amount of darkness and regrets in equal measure so you see that they actually in a weird odd way make sense as a couple.
However, as I progressed through the book, I wished that we had more insight into other characters in this book. We had Ralph's son and Catherine's sister who just seemed very flat when compared to how layered Ralph and Catherine were in my opinion. I thought that Ralph's son was just a ridiculous one note character that was mean and awful.
The setting of Wisconsin in 1909 felt very real. Throughout the entire book I just had a feeling of being cold the entire time. Wisconsin sounded desolate and sad. And I still wondered how in the world Ralph's first wife even managed to find people to come to this out of the way place to hold her salons.
The writing gave me some issues as I read. I initially had a hard time with this book I think because Mr. Goolrick was exceptionally wordy in the first part of this book and even after we hit part two I thought that there was a lot of repetitiveness that was going on. I think he wrote very flowery language throughout which of course I don't have a problem with. I had a problem with it saying the exact same though several pages. And the flow of the book was all off until we got to part two.
I thought part two was written as differently as part one could be. The pace of the story increases substantially. I felt like I was holding my breath the entire way through to the end. There was a huge plot twist thrown in that I didn't see coming that had me dropping my jaw. I would say though that the more I thought about it, the plot twist didn't make sense and even the character motivations started to fall apart the more you thought about things.
All in all a very interesting book, however, I would probably not re-read it again in the future.
Please be warned that there is a scene depicting one of the characters being raped that was quite graphic.
Please note that I received this for free via the Amazon Vine Program. This book was released on January 26, 2010.