A Reliable Wife, Robert Goolrick
Abandoning her worldly life, traveling to a remote Wisconsin town in the dead of winter, trusting her future to a man she had never met, such was Catherine Land's new beginning. But there was an ending in sight as well, an ending that would redeem the treachery ahead, justify the sacrifice and allow her to start over yet again. That was her plan.
For Ralph Truitt, the wealthy businessman who had advertised for "a reliable wife", this was also to be a new beginning. Years of solitude, denial, and remorse would be erased and Catherine Land, whoever she might be, would be the vessel of his desires, the keeper of his secrets, the means to recover what was lost. That was his plan.
Set just after the turn of the twentieth century, A Reliable Wife is the story of these two people, each plagued by a heart filled with anger and guilt, each with a destiny in mind. But neither anticipates what develops between them, the pent up longings that Catherine discovers in this enigmatic man and the depth of her own emotional response; the joy Ralph experiences in giving Catherine the luxuries she has never known, his growing need for her, and a desire that he thought was long buried.
A Reliable Wife is reminiscent of the classic novels of the Bronte's and Du Maurier. Unfolding in a frozen Wisconsin landscape, its a haunting story of love and madness, passion and murder, beautifully written, brilliant and like nothing I've read before.
Burning Bright, Tracy Chevalier
No. 13 Hercules Buildings, Lembeth, 1792. Poet, artist and printer William Blake, local eccentric and political radical, works anonymously amid the raucous din of a teeming, jittery London. Across the channel, revolution is imploding in France. Nearby, the renowned Astley's Circus is rehearsing its upcoming show and next door, the Kellaway Family, recently arrived from the countryside, is moving in. Maggie Butterfield, the streetwise daughter of a local rogue, is looking for trouble, or at least a friend. When she and young Jem Kellaway are drawn into Blake's spell, the chance meeting of three unusual souls set the stage for an impassioned journey. Jem and Maggie spark the imagination of the poet, influencing one of the greatest and most mystical works in English literature, Songs of Innocence and of Experience.
Burning Bright evokes the full pageantry of Georgian London; its circus spectacles, mustard factories, pubs and bawdy songs, the grandeur of West Minister Abbey and the secrets of Cut-Throat Alley. Behind these lie the greatest movements of an era, the influence of a nearby revolution, the mustering of forces loyal to the Crown, and the agony of being an independent thinker in an age suspicious of dissent.
As she did in the best selling Girl With a Pearl Earring, Chevalier brilliantly captures an era and sense of place at the same time deftly evoking an artist's vision. Overflowing with energy and a power of creation, a vivid story of the unpredictable, exhilarating passage into adulthood.
If the reader prizes antiques, two books I'd suggest:
Antique Trader's Country Americana Price Guide, 2nd Edition, Edited by Kyle Husfloen and Antiques for Amateurs, Secrets to Successful Antiqueing - Handy Reference: Perfect for Beginners - Expert Advice: Turn Pleasure Into Profit
Covers dozens of the hottest items, Milan Vesely
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