Thursday, April 30, 2015

"A Reliable Novel" by Robert Goolrick

Actually, the original and well-crafted novel, called "A Reliable Wife", reminded me a little of "The Devil in the White City". Deeply twisted evil lurks beneath the veneer of turn-of-the-20th-Century American Midwest, as a fantastically wealthy man from northern Wisconsin advertises for a "reliable wife" in the newspapers of large Midwestern cities. At the beginning of a frigid and hard Wisconsin winter, the man send his private railcar to Chicago to pick up his chosen lady. The lady arrives; he sees immediately that she is not quite the lady she claimed in her letters and photo. But she is alluringly lovely; he lets her stay. Supplied with his money, she buys wonderful fabric and hand sews amazing beautiful dresses for herself, as is her passionate skill. She yearns to plan and execute a flower garden for the next summer---and she plans to execute something else, too. The author sites "Wisconsin Death Trip", a coffee table book of the 1970's filled with Victorian era photos of dead people in their coffins; stories of Wisconsin people driven mad by the recurring, frozen expanses of winter. My usual complaint about sloppy editing does not apply here; the book is smartly crafted.

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