Ralph Truitt is a wealthy aging man in Wisconsin, who’s eventually so lonely that he places an ad in the paper for a “reliable wife”. Ralph initially comes off as a very cold person, not well-liked in town. He gets a response from Catherine Land, and he chooses her come live with him and be his wife. Then we meet Catherine as she’s on the train to Wisconsin, and it becomes obvious that she’s not the “simple, honest woman” that she claimed to be. She purposely reveals herself to be poor and prim, so that she can marry this man, kill him very slowly, and end up a rich widow.
For a while they live in the same house, just getting used to each other. Ralph tells her about his life, and we learn that though he deserved a lot of it he’s had a really hard life and lost a lot. They seem to bond a bit and agree to marry, and that’s when Ralph makes the condition that if they marry, she has to go find his long-lost son Antonio, and bring him home.
I don’t want to go much more into detail than that, because I guess part of the appeal of the book is its’ twists and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.
Overall, I guess this book just didn’t do it for me. I ended up kind of liking Ralph, cause he was a sad old man that in the end really did just want some peace and companionship. But overall, I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. I think it was the writing style – it felt like the author was describing the characters to me himself, rather than letting them come to life through the story. There was very little action and a WHOLE lot of inner thoughts and descriptions. I think at one point there were like 3 pages describing one of the character’s entire perverted sexual life. Got kind of boring after a while. (And really didn’t seem to have much purpose as the story went on). And while yes, I suppose there were surprises and / or plot twists, they weren’t really that shocking… when you’re creating such seemingly wicked and depraved characters, it’s kind of hard to be shocked by anything that they do.
I read a review elsewhere online that said the author was obviously in love with his own writing, and I can understand why she thinks that. The sexual descriptions and prose about the Wisconsin landscape seemed to be there to impress us with his pretty writing skills. It just didn’t feel natural.
Anyhoo, it was a quick read and mildly entertaining, but I felt like I could have stopped at any point and not gone back to it. The suspense just wasn’t there for me.
Maybe this would make a better movie than a book?