Posts Tagged ‘historical’

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

This book is currently atop the NY Times Best-Seller List under “Paperback Trade Fiction” (whatever that means).  It intrigued me and that’s why I had to download it on my Kindle.

Disclaimer: “A Reliable Wife” is NOT a happy book.  It is dark, depressing, sad, and any other synonym to those words.  If you don’t like those sort of books, then this one is definitely not for you.  This is probably one of the most depressing books I’ve ever read.  Yet as painful as it was to read, I had to finish it.

The story starts in 1907 with Ralph Truitt, a very wealthy man in his 50′s, waiting at the train station for a woman.  This woman came to him from an ad he put in the papers for a “reliable wife” (meaning a simple woman who could live with him and be a companion of sorts).  A younger woman named Catherine had answered his ad and sent a picture and he paid for her to come to Wisconsin and live with him.  When Catherine arrives, she is not the same woman in the picture (it was actually her cousin), but he keeps her anyway.  They “bond” immediately after he is injured on the ride home and she has to care for his wounds.  Little does Ralph know that Catherine isn’t who she says she is and she has other intentions for her new relationship.

I can’t go into the details of the storyline any further, but I’ll say that the story winds a tale of selfishness, passion, debauchery, sex, drugs, grief, and death (not necessarily in that order).  The book didn’t make me cry or anything, but it was just a very heavy read.  It was an interesting story and shows you the darker sides of city life back in the early 20th century.  Okay, I’m ready to read a light-hearted chick lit book now!

The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen

Do you like reading historical romance fiction (is that a genre??)?  I do!  If you like the novels by Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, etc, then I think you might like this book.

The Apothecary’s Daughter” is based in England during the Regency era.  Lilly Haswell helps her father, Charles, run his apothecary shop in Bedsley Priors; her mother left the family when Lilly was a young girl.  Lilly’s estranged aunt and uncle suddenly come to visit, hoping to “adopt” Lilly’s brother Charlie as an heir to their estate, but then they find out about Charlie’s disabilities (based upon my limited medical knowledge, it seems like he may be Autistic) and decide that he will not work for their plans.  Instead, they offer to bring Lilly to London to teach her lady-like things and to hopefully marry her off to a rich young man.  In those days, women were not allowed to be apothecaries and her knowledge of Latin, medical terminology, and science was not seen as a good thing, so she had to try to keep that secret.

Lilly is enjoying her time in London, going to parties and meeting potential suitors, until she gets a letter from a friend of her father’s asking her to come home because her father is “not himself”.  When she arrives home, the apothecary shop is in shambles and her father is a mess.  Lilly decides to stay with her father and tries to help him recover from his mystery illness and she brings the shop back to life.

Throughout the story, Lilly has gotten herself involved with several men.  I won’t go into too much detail about that because that’s one of the items that kept my attention… I wasn’t sure who she would end up with at the end.  Lilly also struggles with new laws for apothecaries that go into effect which cause huge problems for the Haswell Apothecary.  I know that I’m leaving out a ton of little things, but again, I hate giving out too many details because I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone who goes out and reads it.

I really like books like this; I think it’s fun to think about what it would be like back in those days (and then think how lucky I am to be alive in this century!) and in other countries.  Although I reference Jane Austen and Charlotte and Emily Bronte above, this book is not written the way those books are (from what I can remember from when I read them back in high school).  The book is written in a way that is very easy to read with no fancy old-fashioned language to have to decipher.  I also noticed when reading reviews that this book was sometimes classified as Christian fiction, but I didn’t notice any major Christian undertones like I’ve seen in other books.  It just seemed like a good romantic fiction.

Julie Klassen has authored several other books that seem to go along the same theme of Regency England.  Haven’t read any of them yet but may put them on my list!

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Jaci has read 1 book toward her goal of 35 books.

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