This was the book I used for the very first book group I ran, and it still remains a favorite. It is dark and gothic, with a compelling narrative that does not take the expected route. Ralph Truitt, a captain of industry in rural Wisconsin in 1909 advertises for a simple, honest woman to join him as his “reliable wife”. Catherine, the woman who answers his ad is not as simple and honest as she portrays herself. Beautiful, with a shady past, she has her own agenda—she plans to poison him and leave Wisconsin a rich widow. What happens as the story unfolds is far from expected, and the bleak Midwestern winter landscape provides the perfect backdrop for a story steeped in lust, greed, and twisted notions of what it means to love. You WILL take a side and you might be surprised by which side you find yourself on.
Robert Goolrick spent many years in advertising. After being fired in his early fifties, he decided to pursue his first love—telling stories. A Reliable Wife was his first novel, but I heartily recommend his memoir, The End of the World As We Know It.