A Reliable Wife

A Reliable Wife

Book - 2009
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Set in a small Wisconsin farming and manufacturing town still crumbling a decade after the depression of the 1890s, A Reliable Wife tells the story of Ralph Truitt, a wealthy businessman who advertises for "a reliable wife" in newspapers across America. The woman he chooses, Catherine Land, describes herself as "a simple, honest woman," but in truth she is both complex and devious-- not the missionary's daughter she claims to be in her letter to Truitt but a courtesan of great beauty, kept by men and haunted by a terrible past. Catherine's plan in accepting the marriage offer 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 the passion she finds in this seemingly solid, forthright man--a man who also harbours secrets and whose own past is far from pure.


Filled with remarkable characters and drenched with colour and atmosphere, A Reliable Wife is a story of love and madness, longing and murder, played out in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins Canada, 2009
ISBN: 9781554685035
Characteristics: 291 p


From Library Staff

wendybird Apr 26, 2011

A terrifically lyrical & sensual read, with a solid story premise...
Ralph Truitt is a wealthy, repressed Wisconsin landowner in need of a wife. He places an advert, and the beautiful Catherine Land (a former lady of the night), responds.
The first half of the novels seems much stronge... Read More »

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Mar 07, 2018

Really mixed thoughts about this book. I like his writing style, the way he describes things but dialogue is not a strong point with him.
An older man advertises for a reliable wife & a beautiful woman in her thirties replies. In their past they have both lived painful lives & they both have their own agendas as they come together. It was a twisted tale & I was happy to drift along with it until a third person came into it. After that I started skip reading & I'm not sure if I was impatient to get the final outcome or just wanted it over.
I will read something else of his because his style is good but may not hang around for long if there is a lot of despair going on with his intriguing characters.

CRRL_MegRaymond Dec 19, 2017

A 1907 classified ad for “a reliable wife” sets two people on a dangerous game of wits.

Jun 25, 2016

A very twisted take indeed. Excellently crafted, poetic and engaging. Subtlety and delightfully wicked.

Apr 04, 2015

This is a horrible book. Never again will I read anything by this author. The whole story could have been summed up from the last 2 pages of the story: It was a story about despair. There is no happy ending. I kept reading and reading, hoping that there would be SOMETHING redemptive. Total trash. Total waste of time.

Dec 17, 2014

Somewhat surprising twist on often-used themes. Love can exist under the most bizarre and trying circumstances

rowanquincy Feb 05, 2014

Loved this and will seek out more books by this author. Intriguing characters and I never could anticipate how it would end up.

IMolina3 Dec 12, 2013

Ohj, i got to say that this book was awesome, he is a great author, i couldnt put this book down, i got to look for more books of him,,; )

millwood Oct 31, 2013

I don't get why people liked this book so much. Most of the plot revolves around the author telling - character changes and attitudes change suddenly and for little reason. I finished it, but only on the basis of the good reviews, and was disappointed I put the time in.

bbonier Oct 16, 2013

I have conflicting feelings about this book. The words flow easily, but the characters are dark and disturbing. Parts of it were predictable, which wasn't necessarily bad, but I couldn't wait for the story to be over.

Aug 02, 2013

A very well written book and interesting on many levels. The story is a dark one and ultimately it is a character study of the three main people in the book.

The book is also about healing and how love can develop when totally unexpected.

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Jun 25, 2016

He wanted her teeth to bite him. To leave marks in his back, his legs. He wanted her hair to strangle him. He wanted her to tell him that his touch would not kill her. He wanted to slice her open and lie inside the warm blood of her body...He wanted the moment at which he finally lay naked against her, chest to chest, her hand fluttering above his shoulders like white birds in the chill night, her frantic fingers threading invisible needles.

Jun 25, 2016

He made no apologies. He never tilted his head in sentimentality, or paused for her approval or her sympathy, and she never turned her eyes from his, never wandered around the room or shuffled her feet or asked for a glass of water. She just listened. It was a life he told her, entire, flawed, scarred with indulgence and self-laceration, but brave, it seemed to her, courageous at the same time.

Jun 25, 2016

"You see, thought Catherine, sooner or later, everything gets a fresh start. It's not just possible. It happens."

VeganGreen Jul 16, 2009

She loved the smell of the books from the shelves, the type on the pages, the sense that the world was an infinite but knowable place.

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Jun 23, 2010

pcooper thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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