Friday, April 24, 2009
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
A Reliable Wife is a fast book. Reading it in two days was a breeze.
That said, I'm not sure how I feel about it. Mostly, I thought it was great. Except for one thing: I felt lied to. What should have been a plot twist caused, instead of surprise, a confusing re-evaluation of narrator and character. And in fact, the twist wasn't particularly surprising; I'd suspected it at first but disregarded it because based on the character's thoughts and plans, it didn't make sense.
Isn't there a rule about omniscient narrators? Aren't they supposed to tell it like it is? Omitting details may be one of a writer's suspense-building tools, but completely misrepresenting a character's thoughts, plans or schemes seems like bad form to me. (My husband thinks this has to do with the betrayal theme; I told him omniscient narrators don't get to do that.)
That pretty much deteriorated the rest of the book for me; I felt a little less invested in the characters thereafter (and a little annoyed with their sexual obsessions), and though the plot was intense enough to keep me glued till the end, and the small details were seldom tedious, and overall, the writing was fantastic, I couldn't shake the oily feel of the author's trick--and if it weren't for that, I would be singing its praises hither and yon.
But isn't the Canadian cover (left) lovely?
Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for the review copy.