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It Began on Peyton Place

When I was barely a teen, I’d discovered my father’s hiding place for what we then called: dirty books. Shoved way in the back of his night stand, I found a rather worn paperback of “Peyton Place,” by Grace Metalious, the book that everyone loved to hate, and no one ever admitted to reading. When I was sure nobody would be home for a while, I’d sneak the book out and take a peek at many of the already dog-earred pages. I didn’t understand why my hands got all sweaty, why a weird sensation of heat came over me and traveled up my neck and out the top of my head. I was sure I was committing a sin by reading about the shocking subject matter, which included adolescent pregnancy, adultery, and the horrors of rape.

 The pages read steamy, nearly burning my  greedy fingers as I skimmed page after page for the juicy parts and things I'd never read in "Heidi." I didn’t recognize the characters as people I might know in my own quiet lazy suburban town. That pretty much summed up the level of my naivite.

It wasn’t until recently, when reading Robert Goolrick’s first novel, “A Reliable Wife,” that I was reminded of those first sensual and confusing feelings. In this rousing historical story, part love story, part mystery, the author has successfully blended the elements of love, loss, passion and finally deception. Everything gets turned upside down when a prostitute and her lover devise a plan for her to marry a wealthy widower who she will then kill, thus inheriting his entire fortune. However the lonely and much older bachelor has a plan of his own. His rapture for the beautiful woman rises above all good and evil and becomes his motivation to live- his revenge, to take her for his own. Having read "Peyton Place" before I really understood the psychological aspects of love and the complexities of sex didn't really harm me, at least I don't think so. I did, however, develop a respect and fascination whenever sex in literature was portrayed uniquely and worked in sync with character and story.

“He wanted to slice her open and lie inside the warm blood of her body.”

  A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick