A Reliable Wife

Love that lived beyond passion was ephemeral. It was the gauze bandage that wrapped the wounds of your heart. It existed outside of time, on a continuum that couldn’t be seen or described. Ralph thought of Catherine during the day with a mixture of love and fear, but he found himself content that she would be there when evening came. (p. 253)

I loved this book. I read it slowly, painfully slowly, not wanting to miss a single nuance or a single revelation that showed us a new side of each character or a new twist of plot. It is a magnificent book, beautifully written, the kind that makes the one you pick up immediately after seem shallow and unimportant.

From the minute I began the first page, standing with Ralph Truitt in the Wisconsin winter waiting for his wife to arrive by train, I was hooked. When his bride sheds her red velvet suit and shoes, throwing them from the train window in exchange for a simple black dress into which she has sewn her jewels, I am intrigued. The story never let up from there. I was drawn to the characters’ lives, their thoughts, their surprising actions, like a moth to light. I could not extricate myself from them, nor did I want to.

But, I do have a question. Why A Reliable Wife for the title? Why not A Reliable Husband? For it was Ralph I loved. Constant, patient, heartbroken Ralph, who recognized his flaws and sought with all his might to make recompense.

Or, why not call it An Unreliable Son? For Antonio has the same flaws, but no ability or desire to rise above them.

And loving them both is Catherine, who leaves Saint Louis to meet the man whose ad she had answered one winter night in 1907.

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22 thoughts on “A Reliable Wife”

  1. This seems to be THE book to read. Everyone loves it. Even at Borders, they had it displayed by the register, and when I brought it up, the cashier began to wax lovingly. I'm obviously missing out!

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  2. Hey! sorry I haven't been over here in a while. My life is a bit crazy. But I almost picked this book up yesterday at B&N, but put it back down when I thought of the stack I have to read at home….I will now have to go get it.

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  3. This book fits in my description of a book – it must be written formally and not Meg Cabot-ish. I would love to read this. How could you intrigue us in one paragraph? Beautiful review Bellezza.

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  4. I was very kindly sent this not long a go and am planning on having a good read of it in the non too distant future, its seems to be one of the books that everyone is talking about!

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  5. This book is on my "Oh my gosh, I'm going to download it if I read one more positive review" list. Glad you loved it so much, Bellezza. I'm trying to patiently wait for my library copy.

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  6. Lovely teaser, Belleza! I didn't love this book as much as you did, but I did quite enjoy it, and you brought back many of the reasons why. I thought the Reliable Wife title fit, since Catherine is the character in flux – Ralph is definitely reliable and Antonio is definitely NOT (or, reliably dissipated perhaps), but Catherine may or may not turn out to be what she says she is, & may or may not turn out the way we hope.

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  7. I have this one on my Kindle and look forward to reading it the next time I am on an airplane. This is just the kind of book that will suck me in and help the time pass by much quicker while I am flying.

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  8. Emily, you are right, of course that Catherine's character is indicative of the title. But, I found all three main characters so fascinating it was hard for me to concentrate on 'just' the wife. And, she didn't seem so terribly reliable until the bitter end. The title fascinates me…

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  9. I thought it was called "A Reliable Wife" because that's what Ralph asked for in the newspaper, according to Goodreads, that is. I've been wanting to read this book for awhile.The thing is, your review seems like it's for an entirely different book than the one Goodreads is talking about! Haha, who knows?

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  10. Hi Bellezza, Well, I guess I'm the lone ranger.. I'm reading this now for my book club and am just past the halfway point. I am not loving it so far, in fact I'm really tempted to start skimming, and if it wasn't a book club read that's probably what I'd do! I don't know what it is about it.. maybe the long paragraphs about sexual obsession or the lack of any values on the part of any of the characters (but- maybe Ralph will surprise me). I don't know.. I just don't like any of them. Plus I feel like I've read something really similar before.. it's bugging me so much because I can't quite remember what it is- a classic I think, from high school or college. Anyway, I'm hoping the second half of the book gets better for me since it's required reading!!

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  11. Hi, Karyn, my blog is now at dolcebellezza.blogspot.com. I'll make sure there's an option to receive posts by email there if you're interested in following them.

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