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.
We are introduced to rural Wisconsin, "where the winters were long, and tragedy and madness rose in the pristine air", at the beginning of the 20th century.
Ralph Truitt is an unbelievably rich but miserable and sad man.He is haunted and blinded by his never ending desire and lust, being led to think by his mother that that's the most terrible sin, to want.But he did want.He wanted a wife, a simple woman, a companion, someone to be kind to him, something he was not used to in life, despite being so good and kind himself to everyone.He places an ad in the newspaper asking for a "Reliable Wife". Catherine is accepted by Ralph and comes to Wisconsin to meet him and get married.But Catherine was not the simple woman that Ralph wanted, far from it. She is devious and cunning and set to do something terrible to Ralph.Is she truly that mean and horrible person, though?When push comes to shove will she chose humanity over fear?And then we have Antonio, Tony.The prodigal son.Or not.The lover.Or not.The wronged.Or not.The boy who lives and breathes revenge and hatred.Will his uncontrollable rage get the best of him or will he decide to mentally destroy all things past and start anew?
A Reliable Wife is a tense and engaging gothic tale,with the most gripping plot.There's always shocking revelations and surprises lurking around the corner, whenever you think your assumptions are solid.Characters are brilliantly described, never deciding whether to love them or hate them till the end of the book.That was the writer's intention, I think.Even though the characters are extensively described, you learn so many details about their lives and you're made to believe it's easy to judge and hate them,eventually you can't because Ralph, Catherine and Antonio are good people whose only sin was that they were not willing to let go of and forget the myriad ways that life has wronged them, letting all this guilt and anger devour them little by little.The question is, can you bring yourself to hate them for that?
I have never read such intense and brutally realistic description of desire, pain, fury, love, desperation, madness.I am very grateful to have read this book.I loved it.