Home Covid 19 Robert Goolrick Dies at 73; Became a Successful Novelist Late in Life

Robert Goolrick Dies at 73; Became a Successful Novelist Late in Life


When Grey fired him in 2002, Mr. Goolrick reinvented himself as a writer.

He soon started work on his first novel, “A Reliable Wife,” an erotic story set in rural Wisconsin in 1907. A wealthy businessman advertises for a wife — for “practical, not romantic reasons” — but the woman who responds is beautiful, not plain, as he had expected, and eventually reveals herself to be deceitful and dangerous.


“I had worked for a long time on ‘A Reliable Wife,’ and when I finished, I found I couldn’t stop writing,” Mr. Goolrick told Publishers Weekly in 2009. “So I wrote the first chapter of the memoir — and kept on going.”

Although he completed the novel first, Mr. Goolrick’s memoir was the first to be acquired and published, by Algonquin. After its success (it has sold about 40,000 hardcover, paperback and e-book copies), Algonquin purchased “A Reliable Wife,” which turned into a blockbuster, selling more than a million copies. It spent nearly a year in 2010 and 2011 on The New York Times’s trade paperback best-seller list, including three weeks at No. 1.

The critic Ron Charles, writing in The Washington Post, called “A Reliable Wife” “a Gothic tale of such smoldering desire it should be read in a cold shower” and “deliciously wicked and tense, presented as a series of sepia tableaux, interrupted by flashes of bright red violence.”

Mr. Goolrick published three more novels — “Heading Out to Wonderful” (2012), “The Fall of Princes” (2015) and “The Dying of the Light” (2018) — but they did not sell nearly as well as “A Reliable Wife.”

Columbia Pictures optioned “A Reliable Wife”in 2009, but to date no film has been made.

In addition to his brother, Mr. Goolrick is survived by his sister, Lindlay Maitland Ford.

Mr. Goolrick began “The End of the World As We Know It” with a declaration about his family’s alcoholism.