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Robert Goolrick – A Reliable Wife

October 25, 2009
Robert Goolrick - A Reliable Wife

Robert Goolrick - A Reliable Wife

I’m back from a necessary hiatus (on posting, not reading).

Goolrick’s homage to the gothic marriage novel over-eggs its prose so much that the effect cannot be forgiven merely because it’s deliberate, but after some time to think it over, I’d say the pudding turns out anyway.  The chief strength of A Reliable Wife is its ability to take work elements from forebearers like Rebecca—the new wife desperate to gain entry into the isolated household and world of a husband with a too-lengthy past; the overprotective housekeeper who refuses to deliver up enough history; the perfectly-timed revelatory character twist that reboots the plot—into something that manages to feel both familiar and fresh.  Some of the more telegraphed plot turns will not be much of a surprise, but the real mystery comes in where the compelling relationship between the two central characters is headed—and that remains a point of suspense until the very (satisfying) end.

I also love the cover, although I’m not sure why.  Maybe something about the way the stark landscape makes the gold look frigid.

Speaking of Rebecca, between A Reliable Wife and The Little Stranger, I wound up visiting it via the Anna Massey-narrated audiobook, which is great.  These three make a fantastic autumn-into-winter paired reading, which might be even better with Jane Eyre tossed in.

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