My Book Club met this morning. I selected the novel that had been given many favorable reviews. Robert Goolrick's A Reliable Wife appealed to me first because it was historical fiction. Second, the story begins with a man waiting at a train station for a woman he has never met who will become his wife. She plans to poison him and become a wealthy widow.It sounded like a story with possibilities. The review goes on to say that the book is full of twists and turns. So, based on that, I selected it for our October book.
The book had been compared to classics like Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Personally, I don't think it comes close to those two classics in either storytelling or writing. That's not to say it was a bad read.
The book turned out to be very dark, depressing and filled with hopelessness. The review was correct in saying there are twists and turns in the story, but many of them were predictable. I kept wondering how the three main characters could all be such flawed personalities with so much baggage to carry around with them through their lives. To top it off, the entire thing takes place in northern Wisconsin during a cold winter filled with snowstorm upon snowstorm.
I wondered how the women in my Book Club would react to the story. It turned out that they all felt very much the same as I did. We all agreed that the author had done a good job in portraying life in 1909 in northern Wisconsin. Even reading on a hot, summer day left me wanting to curl up with an afghan. All agreed that it was a far stretch to find so many characters with so many psychological problems, all involving sex and lust.
The final consensus was that, even though it wasn't a book we'd recommend to others, we didn't mind reading it. It wasn't the kind of book that you wanted to slam shut and never open again. It did keep my interest and that's always a plus. So, if you like historical fiction filled with lust, dark psychological secretive pasts, and a bit of mystery, then you might enjoy A Reliable Wife.