Join the Southwest Book Club to discuss A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick. Ralph Truitt, a wealthy businessman who lives in a remote nineteenth-century Wisconsin town has a troubled past. After advertising for a reliable wife, his ad is answered by Catherine Land, a woman who makes every effort to hide her own dark secrets. A tale of suspenseful seduction and an unexpected ending!
Anyone age 18 or older is welcome to attend. The book club meets monthly at the Southwest Branch Library. For more information, please call 407.835.7323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, July 16
Library Meeting Room
If you are unable to attend the meeting or you would like to join our discussion, you can share your thoughts or respond to the discussion questions below. Simply click "Comments" located at the bottom of this post. Join the discussion!
1. Ralph and Catherine's story frequently pauses to give brief, often horrific glimpses into the lives of others. Ralph remarks on the violence that surrounds them in Wisconsin, saying, "They hate their lives. They start to hate each other. They lose their minds, wanting things they can't have". How do these vignettes of madness and violence contribute to the novel's themes?
2. The encounter between Catherine and her sister, Alice, is one of the pivotal moments of the novel. How do you view these two women after reading the story of their origins? Why do the two sisters wind up on such different paths? Why does Catherine ultimately lose hope in Alice's redemption?
3. The idea of escape runs throughout the novel. Ralph thinks, "Some things you escape.... You don't escape the things, mostly bad, that just happen to you" (pages 5-6). What circumstances trap characters permanently? How do characters attempt to escape their circumstances? When, if ever, do they succeed? How does the bird imagery that runs through the book relate to the idea of imprisonment and escape?
4. Did you have sympathy for any of the characters? Did this change as time went on?
5. Does Catherine live up in any way to the advertisement Ralph places in the newspaper (page 20)? Why or why not?
6. At the onset of A Reliable Wife the characters are not good people. They have done bad things and have lived thoughtlessly. In the end how do they find hope?
Discussion questions obtained at litlovers.com.