Monday, July 19, 2010

July Book Club Discussion - A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

***SPOILER ALERT*** If you have not yet read this book but intend to you may want to finish it before you read the discussion questions. There are some spoilers herein!
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for "a reliable wife." But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she's not the "simple, honest woman" that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man's devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt — a passionate man with his own dark secrets —has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.

With echoes of Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, Robert Goolrick's intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

Book Club discussion questions: (the answers in pink are my own personal responses)
  1.  On a scale of 1 (lamer than lame) and 5(super fantastic) rate the following:
    1. Style of Writing - 3.5 out of 5
    2. Development of Characters -  4 out of 5
    3. Flow of storyline - 3 out of 5
    4. Over all book - 3.5 out of 5
  2. This book is largely about forgiveness, do you think the actions of Truitt are forgivable?  I am a firm believer in the importance of context. I know that it is never ever ever okay to strike a child, but there are two very important things at play - first it was a very different time, when striking a child was not viewed as it is now, and the amount of rage Truitt was consumed with had to have been unbearable. Having said that, I think Antonio should have at least truly heard him out, before deciding to not forgive him. Besides in my mind forgiveness is not saying that it was okay that it happen but rather that you accept it for what it is and rebuild from there.
  3. What was your most favorite part? I loved that Catherine realized that she was worth being loved by Truitt and that she had something to live for. And I love that she realized it even before the baby was apparent, making it only to solidify her new found understanding of herself.
  4. What was your least favorite part? I didn't like how things turned out with Alice. How sad that she thought that was all she could amount to. And that Catherine was just that little bit too late!
  5. What did you "not see coming"? When Antonio showed up at the Truitt residence I was sure the first thing out of his mouth would be the truth about Catherine. And I was equally shocked by the method of his death. I had a feeling he wouldn't make it out of the story alive, but I didn't think it would be so tragic.
  6. What are your thoughts on the concept of the winter driving people insane?  I have heard of this before, but never quite grasped the concept fully. It is scary to think that something so simple as the weather can have such a huge impact on people. But I know it to be true - I mean if a single dreary day can turn my smile upside down, it must be true that a seemingly endless winter would be worse. Still, it is hard to fathom anything that would make me harm my own family, I think my insanity would be taken out of the general public before my own family.
  7. What is your take on Mrs. Larsen?  She was such a strange character. She played a huge roll without being a true main character. She was just there, a steady part of Truitt's life, really his survival mechanism for the 20 years prior to Catherine's arrival. And then she is forced to take a backseat to the new wife, but in the end she does her best to keep him alive without outwardly accusing Catherine, because she thinks she understands. And even though the motive is not what she thought, her actions turn out to be the best. I bet she just loved the new baby.
  8. Goolrick has another book in print - The End of the World as We Know it, do you think you would read it? I am not big on Memoirs but I am intrigued by the sort of mind that could write A Reliable Wife, so I may just have to pick it up - probably a library lend not a purchase, though.
You can post your answers to these questions, as well as any comments and questions to other members in a comment using the link at the bottom of this post. Or you can create a post on your own blog and link back to us using the Linky! Hopefully we can start a dialogue about this book. Please remember that this Book Club is a new concept for me so an constructive criticism is greatly appreciated. I want this to be OUR club not MINE!


  1. Hi! I'm your Newest Tuesday Follower! Nice to 'meet' you! :)

    I'd love it if you'd followed me back!


  2. This is off-topic but I was entering a giveaway and saw your comments aren't numbered. Mine weren't for a while and it made counting out the winner a PAIN. I used this tutorial to edit my HTML code - only steps 1 and 2 since I didn't care for the bubble-style comments. Not trying to be bossy - just thought it might help you out in case you were interested :)

  3. Thank you so so so much Busy Working Mama - this worked so quite and easy! I really appreciate you taking the time!


I love love love love to hear what other people think - share your thoughts so we can start a dialogue!