Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

bookcover.phpIt’s 1949 in the sleepy town of Brownsburg, Virginia, a town with no stoplights, no crime and only 500 souls, “where most people lived a simple life without yearning for things they couldn’t have.” Stranger Charlie Beale blows into town with two suitcases: one filled with butcher knives, and the other with money. Charlie is a butcher whose background is nebulous, and he’s decided to apprentice to the town’s meat cutter, and to buy up as much real estate as possible. He’s a nice guy, well-liked by the men and women, and a hero figure to a boy named Sam (who is also the narrator of the tale). Charlie falls head over heels in lust with the one woman he should not tangle with: Sylvan Glass, the coveted wife of the cunning and corpulent Boaty Glass, who bought his bride from a poor family down in a holler. Their torpid love affair can come to no good, but the fiery (and faintly Gatsby-esque) way in which it consumes itself is still surprising.

Author of “The Reliable Wife,” Robert Goolrick claims that this novel is based on a true story he was told years earlier while visiting a Greek island; he simply transplanted the characters to a small southern town and have them post-war fears, mores, and sensibilities. The novel is a terrific one for a book club, as there are many themes and discussable characters. The vulnerability of children, sin and forgiveness, secrets and lies, roots and drifting, and identities created an abandoned are all fodder for this rich novel.

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One Response to “Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick”

  1. The End of the World As We Know It by Robert Goolrick | Wake County Libraries "Book a Day" Staff Pick Says:

    […] This is a heart wrenching book, but well worth reading. It is well written, and I am glad to know Robert Goolrick’s story since I’m a fan of his two novels, A Reliable Wife, and Heading Out to Wonderful. […]

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