Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick
Algonquin • $24.95 • ISBN 9781565129238
Published June 12, 2012

Robert Goolrick's dark and sexy novel from 2009, A Reliable Wife, was a surprise #1 New York Times bestseller and is now a book club favorite. (In an interview with EW, the author explained his sales: "I'm told that the books that sell the most are crime books and romance books, and my book has fallen into both of those genres.") Readers have been eager for Goolrick's follow-up, and now they don't have much longer to wait—Heading Out to Wonderful will be published in June.

The novel takes place in 1948 in Brownsburg, Virginia. This is a small town where "no crime has ever been committed" and where people start to talk when a stranger, Charlie Beale, comes to stay. Charlie gets work at the butcher shop, and practically becomes part of the butcher's family—soon acting as a second father to Sam, the butcher's five-year-old son. A drifter who is looking to finally belong in a community, Charlie also buys up land, tries out all the local churches and longs for the love a woman. Unfortunately for Charlie—and for all of the people of Brownsburg—he falls for Sylvan Glass, the wife of the richest guy in town, a man who is also the least popular. For reasons I can't explain here (I don't want any spoilers!), their relationship profoundly affects Sam, and everyone else in Brownsburg. Here's an excerpt that describes Charlie's obsessive love for Sylvan:

He would die for her, just as he lived, now, for Sylvan and Sylvan alone. He would be a better person on her behalf, and he would be patient as Job, saying nothing, applying no pressure, wanting everything and expecting nothing. But it was hard for him, it was hard to pay attention to anything else, to focus on anything that didn't have to do with her.

Everybody in town began to notice the change in him, the distance. What he did with his body began to show in his face. They could sense, dimly at first and then more clearly, that his enthusiasms had become particular, and they knew they had become particular for a particular woman.

Readers in Nashville can get even more of a sneak peek tomorrow night, as Goolrick himself will be reading an excerpt from Heading Out to Wonderful at Parnassus Books. Read more about the event on Parnassus' Facebook page.

What are you reading today? Will you check out Heading Out to Wonderful in June? Are you a fan of A Reliable Wife?

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