Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick

I read A Reliable Wife in one day. I literally could not put it down. I instantly cared for the characters, even though Ralph beat his son and Catherine was plotting to murder Ralph. Although the novel was written by a man, the internal lives of the characters were as fleshed out as one finds more frequently in stories written by women. One member in my book club said that she thought she was reading the words of a woman. To me, the sex gave the author away. More sensual and romantic than the sex authored by most men I've read, the shear abundance of it signaled to me that a male psyche was behind the story. Someone once told me that men have sexual thoughts throughout the day, and that was certainly demonstrated in this story. But I was not put off by it at all. I sympathized and longed for Ralph to find pleasure.

Everybody in my book club felt that Catherine went too far in her plot to murder Ralph, and that if she hadn't tried so hard to save her sister, her sympathy as a character would have been lost. And Ralph accepted too much. Once the horrible side effects of the arsenic presented themselves, he should have fought back, though I suppose his dilerium might have hindered that.

Tony was also nicely fleshed-out and complex. He was easy to hate, but also easy to understand. I was satisfied with the way the author ended the story, though not as sure as Catherine concerning whose child she carried. I was okay with that. I liked the ambiguity and felt Ralph would want to raise the child regardless.

I highly recommend this novel.

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