A Reliable Wife
A NovelBook - 2009
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 mana 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.
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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.
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.
"You see, thought Catherine, sooner or later, everything gets a fresh start. It's not just possible. It happens."
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