Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A RELIABLE WIFE by Robert Goolrick

A mail-order bride steps off the train in Wisconsin in 1907, and the treachery has already begun. Catherine is more beautiful than the photo of a plain friend that she sent to her husband-to-be. Ralph Truitt would have preferred a woman that would not have awakened his sexual desires. At first, Catherine sees Ralph strictly as a means to an end, but an accident on the way home from the train station changes their attitudes and the development of their relationship. For some reason not totally explained, Ralph sends Catherine to St. Louis to retrieve Ralph's long lost son whose father is probably not Ralph at all and who is leading the same sort of dissolute life that Ralph led in his youth. Catherine's inner conflict about who she is and what she wants is the heart of the novel. One woman in my book club described this book as lascivious, and I can't disagree with that assessment, although the lust is largely more thought than action. The melodrama is pretty engrossing and somewhat unpredictable, though not necessarily original, with a midway surprise that I won't reveal. The plot could be compressed into about 5 sentences, so there's a lot of verbiage here, but it paints a sumptuous picture. The descriptions of gardens, furnishings, fashions, the winter landscape, the streets of St. Louis and the people that inhabit these scenes are vivid, and the food descriptions are mouth-watering.


Terry K said...

Patti - I just got this one, before I saw your review. I'll comment when I've read it.

Patti's Pages said...

It's one of those books that could have had several outcomes. I liked the one that the author chose.