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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.

Topics: Family, Marriage, Wisconsin, 1910s, Suspenseful, Dark, Murder, Gothic, Betrayal, Secrets, Arranged Marriage, and 20th Century

Published: Workman eBooks on
ISBN: 9781616200008
List price: $14.95
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terrible! skipped to the end. too wordy and dull. yuck!more
Quite predictable. more
If you want a sugar-coated, la-te-dah romance novel, then turn around and just walk away. But if you want a real story that will grab you, shake you hard, and then it slaps you hard right across the face. This book is startling, painful, and you fill with anger and all your emotions roll around inside your gut. I swear you will not be bored!

I thought this book was going to be just another "pretty good read, maybe a bit of juicy romance" Boy! was I ever wrong.This book has it all seduction, money, love, sex, greed and hardcore true grit. This book will stick with you for a long time.

Goolrick brought to life the intensity and desperation that only a Wisconsin winter can bring. This book was nothing but stunning. The depth and growth in these characters was first-rate. Ralph, Catherine, and Antonio were captivating. This novel will sweep off one's feet! This is it! more
Really good book. It took you on an interesting journey through the lives of three people whose fates are entwined. more
A very strange novel, full of tainted love and twisted chances. It took a bit for me to become involved in it, but once I was, I could not put it down and read through the night. It's not a novel for everyone but I loved this book! I recommended it to several friends and realized later, it's one of THOSE kind of books: you either love it or hate it! I loved it and highly recommend it if you like a tale that mixes everything all up, love, hate, lies, half-truths, revenge, fear, and yep, even happiness, too. I felt only semi-satisfied with the ending. It seemed so ... lame, too soft of a landing ... after all the rather sordid preparations! But read it for yourself, and find out what I mean.more
This book had some touching moments between husband and wife, but overall, it fell a little flat for me. A more accurate title MIT have been A Horny Husband.more
entertaining but not earth shatteringmore
This book is a bit of a struggle to read, because the tone of the narrator is mostly bleak but maybe its more to do with the time period than anything else. The characters were empty but the author wanted you understand them better once you read their back story but they were still lifeless.. I spent most of the book hating Catherine and Antonio and getting fed up of reading about Ralph's urges!! I did think it was overly long all the way through and the ending was quite abrupt. Nevertheless it was an ok bookmore
So not what I expected. Actually better than I expected. Much more drama and intrigue. Well written. I loved the descriptions of the surroundings and time period, I felt like I was there. The only thing I didn't care for was the end where the author got away from telling the story and got philosophical about the characters lives.more
I couldn't really get into this novel. My opinion is the premise was good and the basic story was intriguing but the references to sex and Ralph's obsession with it made me uncomfortable for some reason. I don't know if it's because he's an older man and I'm not used to reading about sex from that point of view or that I didn't care for the author's style of writing. It's something for me to think about. I certainly don't mind reading trashy romance novels so it wasn't the raunchiness (Is that a word?) that bothered me. I don't know. Maybe my opinion will change when I read other review.more
Dear lord no. The summary seemed interesting enough, so when it came up for rent on my library's website, I thought I'd give it a chance. Boy was I wrong, this was just plain horrible. No thanks.more
What a horribly depressing book. I found the characters to be flat, and was often confused by emphasis the author put on certain things that were unimportant to story development (getting snowed in is horrible and terrible and drives people crazy; but nobody gets snowed in so why make such a big deal about it?). The reliable wife was not a reliable narrator which diminished my enjoyment of the narrative somewhat (although I can't say I enjoyed it all that much anyway). I would rather have forgone her internal monologue than wonder why her thoughts and reasoning presented in the first 1/3 was completely different from the second 1/3 of the book. Rather than a huge reveal I would have much preferred an organic growth of the story, even if there were hints of the "surprise" to come later--which really wasn't a surprise to me.

Two stars rather than one because I actually went through the effort of finishing it rather than stopping partway through (it was hit-and-miss at one point).more
What a strange book this is. It has an air of coldness infused with sexuality. Loss, redemption, perhaps love played out against quite the Gothic background. It's like the lovechild of the Brontes and DH Lawrence.This is not a book to be skimmed (though I confess, about 50 pages from the end I peeked at the ending, because I couldn't bear the heartbreak) because the author knows precisely what he is doing, word by word, very carefully, very coldly. A friend told me I needed to read this, and I must thank her.more
Character development is very strong in this work. Impressive.

"He had meant to be a good man, and he was not a bad man. He had taught himself not to want, after his first wanting and losing. Now he wanted something, and his desire startled and enraged him."more
My January loan from the Kindle Lending Library, so diving into this book was a relatively risk-free venture and I wasn't too concerned about the mixed reviews.There are definitely heavy sexual undertones throughout the entire book that some readers might find off-putting, but I honestly didn't have much of an issue with it. None of it was really done to excite or titillate; I felt the adult content was intended more to describe a character's emotions or state of mind.However, I do agree with reviewers' assessments that claim this book could have been much shorter. The story's pretty straightforward, but the author seems to love writing pages and pages of rambling flowery prose and description; that much was clear even from the first few pages. To me it felt like he was trying much too hard to sound "artsy".more
In 1909, a wealthy businessman, form the deep woods of Wisconsin, places an ad for a “reliable wife”. A woman with a dark, mysterious past, accepts the offer. The first half of the book kept my interest but the relentlessly bleak tone and unpleasant characters, finally wore me down. I guess the author’s message was that repression of feelings is “bad” but I felt hammered to death over it. Lighten up, buddy! Yes, there is plenty of torrid (not the fun kind!) sex here but I did not find it very engaging.more
a gothic tale set in the American northwest in 1907 with lots of great characters. novel looks at love from the sordid variety to a lofty pursuit. it shows how far people can travel on a quest only to wind up somewhere they never thought they would be happy.more
I was conflicted on what to say about this book. I liked it enough and was invested enough in the characters to read it over a couple of days. It was beautiful, haunting and yet lacking, repetitive, and unbelievable all at the same time.Goolrick's book seethes with sex. Blatant sex, undertones of sex, abstract sex. Either the people are tormented by lack of sex or rolling around in it with greedy, sickening indulgence or killing for it or dying from it.I love the tormented character and there are three here that stew in torment. Catherine, the sordid, self-punishing woman with a secret past who finally finds peace. Ralph, another self-punishing figure who seeks peace through love and finding his son. Antonio, the naughty, selfish, self-indulgent son and lover who has no redeeming qualities.The best part of the book is the coming together and salvation of Catherine and Ralph. What ruins it is the saturation of sex throughout all actions, thoughts, and plans. It's too heavy in the thick of lust everywhere. Goolrick's words are beautifully laid out though and he fills the characters' lives with sad, tragic, awful rich histories.But there were 3 places I could not suspend disbelief as Goolrick did not build up his world for it effectively.1. Ralph is okay with his wife poisoning him to the death and yet when he recovers there is no conflict there from it, remnants of this awful act haunting them. I get that Ralph is a martyr figure but I simply couldnt buy this. His world created by Goolrick did not support this action. He had a purpose, he lived for a reason and he hadnt made his deepest desires happen yet. I dont buy he would have allowed his wife to kill him slowly and still love her after with no consequences.2. Antonio, at the end, waffles back and forth on his father after hating him with such intensity and wanting him dead throughout the entire book. I can't buy it. It's like a quick switch to say "hey, this guy is redeemable" when we know he is not. Antonio was a 2-dimensional figure to me that needed a bit more rounding out to make him human. A bit more softening of the edges and good reason to be how he is in order to feel any compassion for him at all.3. After pages and pages of Antonio ensconced in Catherine and his father's house (Antonio's old lover and the man he ragingly hates and wants dead) he THEN decides to rape her and beat her? Would he not be full of rage and fueled to rape and kill from the first day he set foot rather than a lulled place they seem to live in for weeks on end?As you can see I am conflicted on this book. It had beauty, wonder, angst and tragedy and yet it was repetitive and lacking. It could have been so much more.more
I had no idea what to expect from this book. It looks like a romance, sounds like an historical thriller, and is compared to Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, two books I really love. So, I didn't really know what I was going to read.I loved the writing in this book - it was sparse but the sentences so well constructed and the words so perfectly placed that they conveyed rich imagery. Imagine living in Wisconsin in 1909, with its long lonely winters. Beautiful in its starkness. Yet there was a warmth to this book too. This book had a lot of sex - I was not expecting that at all. Not really. These characters are all very sexual, but they seemed to be using it to fill a void within themselves. As an escape. The characters were all flawed, none of them with a perfectly clean conscience. All have a past that was less than idyllic or ideal. All have a secret agenda. I loved this book. I was constantly surprised by the plot and the characters. You thought you were getting to know them, but then you find out maybe you didn't. Some surprises were good, some not as good. It was my favorite book I read this week. I very much recommend it. This is a book about love and sex and how they can get all twisted up. It is about loneliness and despair. It is about revenge and redemption. It is about guilt. It is about hope.more
Beautifully written and emotional story.more
Once again, this is a debut novel by an author who has great potential, with his ability to write about life in a revealing way, that shows the inner grubs that lay hidden beneath the rocks. The language is sparse, lyrical, and in the beginning, very well done.But as this is a debut novel, and most authors do not write their masterpieces right out of the gate, this book does has its flaws. There are paragraphs that are identical in message and tone, almost right next to each other, as if one wasn't enough. Some of the plot lines come from nowhere, and dissolves into nowhere, leaving a spot that is essential to the plot, but not woven into it.In some areas I was left longing for the lyrical writings of Ian McEwan, as he wrote in Enduring Love, but I ended up getting that of his Cement Garden. So his style is not yet to the potential that he has. His message, though, is very much there.Like in The Piano Teacher, and in other books, there were spots of time in which, if the character had stopped, and lived, it would have been a happy ending. There were times of peace for Charlene, in Ralph's farmhouse at the beginning, while reading Whitman and taking walks in the frozen wasteland. Or in St. Louis, reading books of gardening in the libraries. In each of these cases, she had sustained some level of contentment. And this is the state we all yearn to arrive at one day. However, much like the characters in the book, this is not possible for any of us. Further steps are taken, the center cannot hold, to quote Keats. For people desire more than just contentment. They want the pleasures and wild joys that one only finds at the peaks of emotions, little knowing that, in most cases, the depths of depression lie just over the cliff.Goolrick takes the decadent life that the characters like Antonio has and shows what happens when people take that step away from contentment. It reminds me, again, of the party scene in Cloverfield, where self-indulgent 20 somethings drink away the night, talking about their futures as if nothing could stop them, little knowing the monster about to attack their city. The prostitutes and their men, the druggies and the people that supply them, they all played the game and end up, at the end, where Charlene's sister did, in the slums.The book is about control and happiness, and in the end, the conclusion that, much like Voltaire's Candide, the only happiness to reach in this world is when we "tend our gardens." The work of creating beauty out of a world of chaos, raising a family, this is what Voltaire and Goolrick try to achieve at the end. But as in Candide, the journey is not without heartbreak, loss, unspeakable joys, and unspeakable horrors.I look forward to his next book, as his writing craft will undoubtedly improve. The book gave me much to think about, and much to write on, which is all I can ask.more
I picked up this book because a friend of mine recommended it after her book club read it. I nearly gave up after the first chapter, but decided to press on. Eventually, I got into it, but it is not one that I will recommend to others. I did, however notice that it was selected as a World Book Night 2012 pick, so it seems as if I may not be in the majority with my opinion. I have two main issues with the book. First, there is not one happy moment in the entire book. Not a single character who is happy with their life. There is nothing innately wrong with that, just not the type of feeling that I enjoy. Second, the writing was so repetitive that I found myself skimming a lot of it because it continued to repeat information.It was an interesting concept which may make it worth reading.more
Set in a small town in Wisconsin, the husband marries a woman who he met thru an ad in the newspaper. The woman brings him alive but we eventually learn about her other life and relationship with another man who shows up.more
Good story - somewhat predictable but well done.more
A blurb on this book's cover called it "intoxicating." I don't know that I'd go that far, but it definitely gripped me for the few days it took to read it! I liked that the characters were so carefully deceptive, with one another and with everyone else. I didn't like that they were so sex-obsessed, seemed way too melodramatic. I enjoyed the writing style - the story evoked memories of reading The Great Gatsby. A good choice for book club!more
One of the best novels I have ever read. The plot keeps thickening and the twists keep coming unexpectedly. I wish he wrote more novels!more
I must admit that the synopsis for this book was what intrigued me. I'm quite fascinated by the time period it's set in (early 1900s). but at the same time I was never quite sure whether or not I would actually like the story. Well let me say, that I was quite surprised. I actually enjoyed this story much more than I thought I would.While the story itself revolves around characters whose pasts have left them all miserable, struggling with their present lives and looking for ways to atone for their sins - quite frankly, none of them (Catherine, Ralph nor Antonio) were likeable. Yet I found myself rooting for them... hoping that they would find some hope in this cold and dark, gothic tale.When Ralph places an advertisement for "a reliable wife" - Catherine responds that she is "a simple, honest woman." Exactly what he's looking for - yet she's nothing like what he expected. Catherine has her own agenda... marry Ralph and then kill him. Simple, tidy and no one would be the wiser... but she didn't expect Ralph to marry her and quickly ship her off in search of his long lost son Antonio. Mr. Goolrick's writing is compelling from the first page. I found that the descriptions of the bitter cold and desolate Wisconsin countryside gave this dark story the perfect atmosphere. The story itself was tense and engaging with a few surprising twists that I did not see coming. Full of betrayal, bitterness and the hope of love and forgiveness - I simply could not put this one down.more
Read all 192 reviews

Reviews

terrible! skipped to the end. too wordy and dull. yuck!more
Quite predictable. more
If you want a sugar-coated, la-te-dah romance novel, then turn around and just walk away. But if you want a real story that will grab you, shake you hard, and then it slaps you hard right across the face. This book is startling, painful, and you fill with anger and all your emotions roll around inside your gut. I swear you will not be bored!

I thought this book was going to be just another "pretty good read, maybe a bit of juicy romance" Boy! was I ever wrong.This book has it all seduction, money, love, sex, greed and hardcore true grit. This book will stick with you for a long time.

Goolrick brought to life the intensity and desperation that only a Wisconsin winter can bring. This book was nothing but stunning. The depth and growth in these characters was first-rate. Ralph, Catherine, and Antonio were captivating. This novel will sweep off one's feet! This is it! more
Really good book. It took you on an interesting journey through the lives of three people whose fates are entwined. more
A very strange novel, full of tainted love and twisted chances. It took a bit for me to become involved in it, but once I was, I could not put it down and read through the night. It's not a novel for everyone but I loved this book! I recommended it to several friends and realized later, it's one of THOSE kind of books: you either love it or hate it! I loved it and highly recommend it if you like a tale that mixes everything all up, love, hate, lies, half-truths, revenge, fear, and yep, even happiness, too. I felt only semi-satisfied with the ending. It seemed so ... lame, too soft of a landing ... after all the rather sordid preparations! But read it for yourself, and find out what I mean.more
This book had some touching moments between husband and wife, but overall, it fell a little flat for me. A more accurate title MIT have been A Horny Husband.more
entertaining but not earth shatteringmore
This book is a bit of a struggle to read, because the tone of the narrator is mostly bleak but maybe its more to do with the time period than anything else. The characters were empty but the author wanted you understand them better once you read their back story but they were still lifeless.. I spent most of the book hating Catherine and Antonio and getting fed up of reading about Ralph's urges!! I did think it was overly long all the way through and the ending was quite abrupt. Nevertheless it was an ok bookmore
So not what I expected. Actually better than I expected. Much more drama and intrigue. Well written. I loved the descriptions of the surroundings and time period, I felt like I was there. The only thing I didn't care for was the end where the author got away from telling the story and got philosophical about the characters lives.more
I couldn't really get into this novel. My opinion is the premise was good and the basic story was intriguing but the references to sex and Ralph's obsession with it made me uncomfortable for some reason. I don't know if it's because he's an older man and I'm not used to reading about sex from that point of view or that I didn't care for the author's style of writing. It's something for me to think about. I certainly don't mind reading trashy romance novels so it wasn't the raunchiness (Is that a word?) that bothered me. I don't know. Maybe my opinion will change when I read other review.more
Dear lord no. The summary seemed interesting enough, so when it came up for rent on my library's website, I thought I'd give it a chance. Boy was I wrong, this was just plain horrible. No thanks.more
What a horribly depressing book. I found the characters to be flat, and was often confused by emphasis the author put on certain things that were unimportant to story development (getting snowed in is horrible and terrible and drives people crazy; but nobody gets snowed in so why make such a big deal about it?). The reliable wife was not a reliable narrator which diminished my enjoyment of the narrative somewhat (although I can't say I enjoyed it all that much anyway). I would rather have forgone her internal monologue than wonder why her thoughts and reasoning presented in the first 1/3 was completely different from the second 1/3 of the book. Rather than a huge reveal I would have much preferred an organic growth of the story, even if there were hints of the "surprise" to come later--which really wasn't a surprise to me.

Two stars rather than one because I actually went through the effort of finishing it rather than stopping partway through (it was hit-and-miss at one point).more
What a strange book this is. It has an air of coldness infused with sexuality. Loss, redemption, perhaps love played out against quite the Gothic background. It's like the lovechild of the Brontes and DH Lawrence.This is not a book to be skimmed (though I confess, about 50 pages from the end I peeked at the ending, because I couldn't bear the heartbreak) because the author knows precisely what he is doing, word by word, very carefully, very coldly. A friend told me I needed to read this, and I must thank her.more
Character development is very strong in this work. Impressive.

"He had meant to be a good man, and he was not a bad man. He had taught himself not to want, after his first wanting and losing. Now he wanted something, and his desire startled and enraged him."more
My January loan from the Kindle Lending Library, so diving into this book was a relatively risk-free venture and I wasn't too concerned about the mixed reviews.There are definitely heavy sexual undertones throughout the entire book that some readers might find off-putting, but I honestly didn't have much of an issue with it. None of it was really done to excite or titillate; I felt the adult content was intended more to describe a character's emotions or state of mind.However, I do agree with reviewers' assessments that claim this book could have been much shorter. The story's pretty straightforward, but the author seems to love writing pages and pages of rambling flowery prose and description; that much was clear even from the first few pages. To me it felt like he was trying much too hard to sound "artsy".more
In 1909, a wealthy businessman, form the deep woods of Wisconsin, places an ad for a “reliable wife”. A woman with a dark, mysterious past, accepts the offer. The first half of the book kept my interest but the relentlessly bleak tone and unpleasant characters, finally wore me down. I guess the author’s message was that repression of feelings is “bad” but I felt hammered to death over it. Lighten up, buddy! Yes, there is plenty of torrid (not the fun kind!) sex here but I did not find it very engaging.more
a gothic tale set in the American northwest in 1907 with lots of great characters. novel looks at love from the sordid variety to a lofty pursuit. it shows how far people can travel on a quest only to wind up somewhere they never thought they would be happy.more
I was conflicted on what to say about this book. I liked it enough and was invested enough in the characters to read it over a couple of days. It was beautiful, haunting and yet lacking, repetitive, and unbelievable all at the same time.Goolrick's book seethes with sex. Blatant sex, undertones of sex, abstract sex. Either the people are tormented by lack of sex or rolling around in it with greedy, sickening indulgence or killing for it or dying from it.I love the tormented character and there are three here that stew in torment. Catherine, the sordid, self-punishing woman with a secret past who finally finds peace. Ralph, another self-punishing figure who seeks peace through love and finding his son. Antonio, the naughty, selfish, self-indulgent son and lover who has no redeeming qualities.The best part of the book is the coming together and salvation of Catherine and Ralph. What ruins it is the saturation of sex throughout all actions, thoughts, and plans. It's too heavy in the thick of lust everywhere. Goolrick's words are beautifully laid out though and he fills the characters' lives with sad, tragic, awful rich histories.But there were 3 places I could not suspend disbelief as Goolrick did not build up his world for it effectively.1. Ralph is okay with his wife poisoning him to the death and yet when he recovers there is no conflict there from it, remnants of this awful act haunting them. I get that Ralph is a martyr figure but I simply couldnt buy this. His world created by Goolrick did not support this action. He had a purpose, he lived for a reason and he hadnt made his deepest desires happen yet. I dont buy he would have allowed his wife to kill him slowly and still love her after with no consequences.2. Antonio, at the end, waffles back and forth on his father after hating him with such intensity and wanting him dead throughout the entire book. I can't buy it. It's like a quick switch to say "hey, this guy is redeemable" when we know he is not. Antonio was a 2-dimensional figure to me that needed a bit more rounding out to make him human. A bit more softening of the edges and good reason to be how he is in order to feel any compassion for him at all.3. After pages and pages of Antonio ensconced in Catherine and his father's house (Antonio's old lover and the man he ragingly hates and wants dead) he THEN decides to rape her and beat her? Would he not be full of rage and fueled to rape and kill from the first day he set foot rather than a lulled place they seem to live in for weeks on end?As you can see I am conflicted on this book. It had beauty, wonder, angst and tragedy and yet it was repetitive and lacking. It could have been so much more.more
I had no idea what to expect from this book. It looks like a romance, sounds like an historical thriller, and is compared to Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, two books I really love. So, I didn't really know what I was going to read.I loved the writing in this book - it was sparse but the sentences so well constructed and the words so perfectly placed that they conveyed rich imagery. Imagine living in Wisconsin in 1909, with its long lonely winters. Beautiful in its starkness. Yet there was a warmth to this book too. This book had a lot of sex - I was not expecting that at all. Not really. These characters are all very sexual, but they seemed to be using it to fill a void within themselves. As an escape. The characters were all flawed, none of them with a perfectly clean conscience. All have a past that was less than idyllic or ideal. All have a secret agenda. I loved this book. I was constantly surprised by the plot and the characters. You thought you were getting to know them, but then you find out maybe you didn't. Some surprises were good, some not as good. It was my favorite book I read this week. I very much recommend it. This is a book about love and sex and how they can get all twisted up. It is about loneliness and despair. It is about revenge and redemption. It is about guilt. It is about hope.more
Beautifully written and emotional story.more
Once again, this is a debut novel by an author who has great potential, with his ability to write about life in a revealing way, that shows the inner grubs that lay hidden beneath the rocks. The language is sparse, lyrical, and in the beginning, very well done.But as this is a debut novel, and most authors do not write their masterpieces right out of the gate, this book does has its flaws. There are paragraphs that are identical in message and tone, almost right next to each other, as if one wasn't enough. Some of the plot lines come from nowhere, and dissolves into nowhere, leaving a spot that is essential to the plot, but not woven into it.In some areas I was left longing for the lyrical writings of Ian McEwan, as he wrote in Enduring Love, but I ended up getting that of his Cement Garden. So his style is not yet to the potential that he has. His message, though, is very much there.Like in The Piano Teacher, and in other books, there were spots of time in which, if the character had stopped, and lived, it would have been a happy ending. There were times of peace for Charlene, in Ralph's farmhouse at the beginning, while reading Whitman and taking walks in the frozen wasteland. Or in St. Louis, reading books of gardening in the libraries. In each of these cases, she had sustained some level of contentment. And this is the state we all yearn to arrive at one day. However, much like the characters in the book, this is not possible for any of us. Further steps are taken, the center cannot hold, to quote Keats. For people desire more than just contentment. They want the pleasures and wild joys that one only finds at the peaks of emotions, little knowing that, in most cases, the depths of depression lie just over the cliff.Goolrick takes the decadent life that the characters like Antonio has and shows what happens when people take that step away from contentment. It reminds me, again, of the party scene in Cloverfield, where self-indulgent 20 somethings drink away the night, talking about their futures as if nothing could stop them, little knowing the monster about to attack their city. The prostitutes and their men, the druggies and the people that supply them, they all played the game and end up, at the end, where Charlene's sister did, in the slums.The book is about control and happiness, and in the end, the conclusion that, much like Voltaire's Candide, the only happiness to reach in this world is when we "tend our gardens." The work of creating beauty out of a world of chaos, raising a family, this is what Voltaire and Goolrick try to achieve at the end. But as in Candide, the journey is not without heartbreak, loss, unspeakable joys, and unspeakable horrors.I look forward to his next book, as his writing craft will undoubtedly improve. The book gave me much to think about, and much to write on, which is all I can ask.more
I picked up this book because a friend of mine recommended it after her book club read it. I nearly gave up after the first chapter, but decided to press on. Eventually, I got into it, but it is not one that I will recommend to others. I did, however notice that it was selected as a World Book Night 2012 pick, so it seems as if I may not be in the majority with my opinion. I have two main issues with the book. First, there is not one happy moment in the entire book. Not a single character who is happy with their life. There is nothing innately wrong with that, just not the type of feeling that I enjoy. Second, the writing was so repetitive that I found myself skimming a lot of it because it continued to repeat information.It was an interesting concept which may make it worth reading.more
Set in a small town in Wisconsin, the husband marries a woman who he met thru an ad in the newspaper. The woman brings him alive but we eventually learn about her other life and relationship with another man who shows up.more
Good story - somewhat predictable but well done.more
A blurb on this book's cover called it "intoxicating." I don't know that I'd go that far, but it definitely gripped me for the few days it took to read it! I liked that the characters were so carefully deceptive, with one another and with everyone else. I didn't like that they were so sex-obsessed, seemed way too melodramatic. I enjoyed the writing style - the story evoked memories of reading The Great Gatsby. A good choice for book club!more
One of the best novels I have ever read. The plot keeps thickening and the twists keep coming unexpectedly. I wish he wrote more novels!more
I must admit that the synopsis for this book was what intrigued me. I'm quite fascinated by the time period it's set in (early 1900s). but at the same time I was never quite sure whether or not I would actually like the story. Well let me say, that I was quite surprised. I actually enjoyed this story much more than I thought I would.While the story itself revolves around characters whose pasts have left them all miserable, struggling with their present lives and looking for ways to atone for their sins - quite frankly, none of them (Catherine, Ralph nor Antonio) were likeable. Yet I found myself rooting for them... hoping that they would find some hope in this cold and dark, gothic tale.When Ralph places an advertisement for "a reliable wife" - Catherine responds that she is "a simple, honest woman." Exactly what he's looking for - yet she's nothing like what he expected. Catherine has her own agenda... marry Ralph and then kill him. Simple, tidy and no one would be the wiser... but she didn't expect Ralph to marry her and quickly ship her off in search of his long lost son Antonio. Mr. Goolrick's writing is compelling from the first page. I found that the descriptions of the bitter cold and desolate Wisconsin countryside gave this dark story the perfect atmosphere. The story itself was tense and engaging with a few surprising twists that I did not see coming. Full of betrayal, bitterness and the hope of love and forgiveness - I simply could not put this one down.more
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