Robert Goolrick “has managed a minor miracle” with this novel set in 1907 Wisconsin, said Clea Simon in The Boston Globe. When wealthy widower Ralph Truitt meets his young mail-order bride, Catherine, at a train platform in the opening pages, Goolrick’s “precise, literary prose” begins a careful excavation of both characters’ tortured souls. But the author also alerts us to cloaked weapons and hidden agendas, setting up a “rousing historical potboiler” that proves as “surprising, and suspenseful, as any beach read.”
Goolrick’s clipped prose can sound overheated and plain silly out of context, said Ron Charles in The Washington Post. Once you’ve adapted to the novel’s claustrophobic atmosphere of pained yearning, though, the effect is “intoxicating.” The characters aren’t playing straight with each other, and Goolrick isn’t playing straight with us. “The floor collapses in almost every chapter.” Before the mood turns suddenly soft in the final pages, brace yourself for “a spectacularly orchestrated crescendo of violation and violence.” It may remind you of Edgar Allan Poe.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Pakistan won't hunt down the terrorists within its borders
- Sorry, GOP, tax cuts don't pay for themselves
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Pope Francis' American problem
- Are there dogs in heaven? Let's hope not.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Hey, bosses: Stop giving bonuses to your employees
- This week I learned your coin toss odds are better than you think, and more
- Cuba should beware of Westerners bearing gifts
Subscribe to the Week