I finished reading A Reliable Wife a couple of weeks ago, but we just had our book club meeting this week. I suggested this one based on the description of it, and I had high expectations. It sounded to me like one of my favorite novels of all time, Rebecca. I love a good romantic mystery.
The story is about a rich businessman named Ralph Truitt who has had a difficult life, and has been living alone in rural Wisconsin for years. Finally he can stand it no longer, and places an ad in the paper for “a reliable wife” motivated by practical, not romantic, reasons. A young woman named Catherine Land accepts his offer, although her plan is to slowly poison him with arsenic and inherit his wealth. But she is unaware that Truitt has his own plans for her.
Overall I liked the book okay, and it was a quick read, but unfortunately it did not meet my expectations. For one thing, I wish it had left more to the imagination. I think Truitt’s lustiness was overdone in the beginning, and the salaciousness of Catherine and her lover was kind of disgusting. There was no buildup of sexual tension, it was just…there.
Also, there were aspects to the writing style that bothered me. The author used a lot of short sentences, which at times felt choppy. I also noticed that he would make drastic, sudden, absolute statements about a character which would be reversed on the next page. It was strange.
I will say that the rest of the members of my book club really liked the story, and it is kind of haunting. I think I was just expecting too much, so I give it three stars. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think.