Thank you for Visiting

This book club provided an opportunity to discuss books with authors from 2009 - 2013. I like to think we were a group of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, well... women finding time to meet while juggling daily life.

I hope you enjoy exploring The Manic Mommies Book Club Archives. We read 46 books over the years, with audio or written author discussions for each book read documented on this blog.

~ with kindness & gratitude, Mari

A Reliable Wife - Robert Goolrick answers our questions!


Thank you Robert for answering our questions!
Our discussion begins tomorrow – I will post questions for us to discuss in the morning.

This is a very interesting plot, did you know Ralph’s journey from the beginning? No. I knew I wanted to write a book about people who were not good, but who struggled to find something of the goodness and meaning of life. Actually, the first scene I imagined from the book was the last one, with Catherine and Ralph in the garden. Then I had to figure out who they were and how they got there.

In your interview you mentioned reading classics as a child, in what way did characters from these books carrying into this story? The classic novels-- Dickens, Trollope, Austen, Tolstoy, the books I read as a child so I would have something to talk about with my aged grandmother, all carry at their center a strong, good, story, often about redemption of some sort or another. I particularly like Austen, who has a trick which never fails to satisfy -- all the happiness comes at the end, all of a sudden, like a magic trick. So it is with Ralph and Catherine. I find a lot of contemporary fiction to be all context and no content, so that, even though I like the process of reading new books, very few of them stay with me for long. I just can't remember the story.

Did you have to research much as you wrote this novel? I’m always interested to learn how easy/challenging the writing process is for authors. I had already read Michael Lesy's WISCONSIN DEATH TRIP many times, but I read it several more. I did some research into St. Louis and Chicago, but not exhaustively. I don't consider this an historic novel. It doesn't attempt to recreate a period or tie a story to important events. The characters are very contemporary people, who are removed from us by time, and put under a microscope.

Catherine... I don’t know if I liked her or hated her. What is your impression of Catherine? Catherine, like all the main characters, is the kind of adult an abused child grows up to be. I am moved deeply by the abuse of children; I have written about it before. They are both deeply disturbed and, at the same time, strangely innocent and hopeful. Catherine, Ralph and Antonio are all facets of this, and not everybody can be saved from the consequences of damage over which they had no control.

If I was Catherine I would have ran quickly after learning about Ralph’s past. Why do you think she decided to stay? He had everything she wanted. And, when what she wanted began to change, she discovered that he was, in fact, a kindred soul, and offered what her heart needed to heal.

Why did Ralph want Antonio home so badly knowing that he was not actually his son? He felt guilty about the way he had treated Antonio as a child, and he wanted to redeem himself through his son, and continue his name after his death.

If Ralph knew he was being poisoned, why did he allow it to continue? When he realized that Antonio wasn't coming home and that Catherine was lying to him, he completely gave up his last hope, and was ready to die out of his own guilt and shame and foolishness.

Do you think about Ralph and Catherine’s future after the book ends? Are they happy, does the baby life or does despair continue to be part of their lives? I think about their future a lot, and I hope that their moment of happiness lasts. Maybe I'll write a sequel. Would that be a good idea?

The writing style comes across ‘cold’ for lack of a better word – was this intentional? I thought it added to the reading experience but this might be personal opinion. Ralph and Catherine come across heartless yet loving, manipulative and deceptive. I think the writing style played an important part in my experience. I want the reader to feel what I write in the body as well as the brain. I hope it is vivid and almost tangible. I wouldn't have called it cold, but it is alternately terse and poetic, kind of like life.

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