Secrets are buried in a small town in 1948. In Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick (A Reliable Wife), Charlie Beale, an attractive, athletic 39 year-old loner and veteran of WWII wanders into a quiet community in the Shenandoah Valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Charlie is in search of a new life when he arrives in Brownsburg, Virginia carrying only two suitcases - one is packed with all of his worldly possessions, including a set of butcher knives; the other is stuffed with money. Offered a job by the local butcher, Charlie is befriended by the shop owner's family, including his precocious five year-old son, Sam. Charlie and the boy instantly bond, but when Charlie's path intersects with Sylvan Glass, a hillbilly turned stunning teenaged bride of the richest man in town, life for the three main characters will be forever changed by the ache and storm of love.
Goolrick is masterful in ratcheting up the tension in this unforgettable story of lost and displaced souls in search of identity, acceptance and belonging. Charlie longs to put down roots. Sylvan, in a loveless marriage, tries to carve out a persona for herself via images of captivating Hollywood starlets from the Silver Screen. While Sam, drawn away from his safe and secure familial environment, bears witness, many years later, to the all-consuming relationship of the star-crossed lovers. Evocative sensory detail and spiritual overtones infuse the emotional landscape of this powerful, climactic narrative that seeks to define and explore the meaning of love and goodness.
Algonquin Books, $24.95, Hardcover, 978156129238, 296 pp
Publication Date: June 12, 2012
Please note: This review is a reprint and is being posted (in a slightly different form) with the permission of Shelf Awareness. To read this review on Shelf Awareness: Reader's Edition (6/15/12), click HERE.