Rely on ‘A Reliable Wife’

In these uncertain times, there is one thing I can say with confidence. However many copies you’ve ordered of A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick, it’s not enough.

I read the book in manuscript several months ago and it has stayed vividly in my mind ever since. In the past week, it suddenly seems that I see mentions of  it everywhere I turn. The LA Times featured it in their blog, “Jacket Copy” on Friday, Dave Welch of Powell’s bookstore in Oregon makes an interesting prediction,

Come a day, you might get sick of hearing about A Reliable Wife  — so many people will have read it and raved to you about it. Here’s some preventative medicine: read it first. 

And, on Friday, the ABA’s Indie Next picks for April came out. The number one pick? A Reliable Wife.

On Monday, Reading Group featured a team review of the book, along with reading group questions by three librarians from the Salem OR Library (a brilliant idea; Reading Group Guides will feature this librarian trio every couple of months, with their picks of forthcoming titles that are great for reading groups). They describe the book’s appeal perfectly,

[A Reliable Wife] engages from the first lines, which describe wealthy small-town magnate Ralph Truitt as he stands waiting, surrounded by the whispers of his neighbors, for a woman to arrive by train. The woman, Catherine, is someone he has ordered up by placing an ad, seeking a “reliable wife.” He implies that he simply wants a steady companion after years of loneliness. She accepts, implying that she’s a plain woman ready to accept the job. Since they’re both lying elaborately, it’s quickly clear their relationship will be a good deal more complicated than initially advertised.

Also, on Monday, the Hollywood Reporter announced that Columbia has bought the film rights.

A Reliable Wife is set  in Wisconsin in 1907. As I read it, I kept thinking of a book from the 1970’s that I’d adored; The Wisconsin Death Trip. It’s a book a librarian can’t help but love. Through newspaper articles and images from the archives of one small town in 19th C Wisconsin, it creates a fascinating narrative. I still have my copy.

Guess what? I later learned that Goolrick was influenced by that very book.

I’m looking forward to reading Goolrick’s earlier book, the 2007 memoir, The End of the World as We Know It. I have a feeling many other Reliable Wife readers will want to go back to the earlier title as well. It was released in trade paper last year.

Many of you may have picked up A Reliable Wife at the Algonquin/Workman booth at MidWinter, or had it forced into your hands by Worman’s Mike Rockliff. If you haven’t read it yet, take heed of the LA Times warning and do so now. 

On Twitter, people are now saying that Algonquin is out of galleys, but I have a secret; I happen to have a very limited number of copies. If you want one, send an email to EarlyWord, with “A Reliable Wife Galley” in the subject line, by 11:59 p.m, Friday, March 13th (we’re running this for only a few days because I have so few copies). We will randomly select winners. Don’t forget to include your mailing address, so they know where to send it!

This giveaway is only available to librarians residing within the 50 United States.


A Reliable Wife

Robert Goolrick

  • Hardcover: $24.95; 304 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (March 31, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1565125967
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125964



The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life

Robert Goolrick

  • Paperback: $13.95; 227 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (April 15, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1565126025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565126022

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