Book Review: Heading Out to Wonderful – Robert Goolrick

13404803 Title:  Heading Out to Wonderful
Author:  Robert Goolrick
Publisher: Algonquin Books; First Edition edition (June 12, 2012)
ISBN 10: 1565129237
Pages: 304 pages
Format: Hard Cover (Library Copy)

About the Book: 
“Let me tell you something, son. When you’re young, and you head out to wonderful, everything is fresh and bright as a brand-new penny, but before you get to wonderful you’re going to have to pass through all right. And when you get to all right, stop and take a good, long look, because that may be as far as you’re ever going to go.” 
It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village of a few hundred people, nestled in the Valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: one contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money.  Finding work at the local butcher shop, Charlie befriends the owner and his family, including the owner’s son, Sam, who he is soon treating as though he were his own flesh and blood. And it is through the shop that Charlie gradually meets all the townsfolk, including Boaty Glass, Brownsburg’s wealthiest citizen, and most significantly, Boaty’s beautiful teenage bride, Sylvan.
This last encounter sets in motion the events that give Goolrick’s powerful tale the stark, emotional impact that thrilled fans of his previous novel, A Reliable Wife. Charlie’s attraction to Sylvan Glass turns first to lust and then to a need to possess her, a need so basic it becomes an all-consuming passion that threatens to destroy everything and everyone in its path. Told through the eyes of Sam, now an old man looking back on the events that changed his world forever, Heading Out to Wonderful is a suspenseful masterpiece, a haunting, heart-stopping novel of obsession and love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a time such things could happen.  (from

Setting: Brownsburg, Virginia


266461 About the Author:
Robert Goolrick was born in a small town in Virginia and attended John Hopkins University.
Fired after 30 years in the advertising business, Goolrick wrote his memoir, The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life. A Reliable Wife is his first novel.

Robert Goolrick lives in a tiny town in Virginia in a great old farmhouse with his dog, whose name is Preacher.

Related Media: – Robert Goolrick on “Heading Out to Wonderful”

My Review:  Previously, I read Robert Goolrick’s book Reliable Wife, which though met with mixed feeling by my book group, I really liked it.  Obviously, when I saw Goolrick wrote another book, Heading Out To Wonderful,  I had to check it out!  Heading Out to Wonderful is a haunting story of a love gone wrong.  My feelings through the book went from feeling sorry for the characters to being very angry with them for what I felt was very poor judgment.
This story is told from the perspective of the adult Sam Haislett. The story has a good flow and moves right along.  All the characters are very well developed and I really could envision them.  The story of Charlie and Sylvan while at first exciting was plagued with poor judgment and disregard for young Sam Haislett.  That really bothered me. 
While I love a nice happy ending, this ending left me feeling upset.  Though I was not entirely surprised by the ending, I was once again surprised by the character’s disregard for others.  Goolrick is truly a storyteller and is very gifted in my opinion.    His characters are rich and have many dimensions.  My thoughts stayed with these characters long after I turned the last page.  I love when that happens.
My Rating: 4 – I really liked Heading Out to Wonderful – it was a quick engaging read – it had me staying up too late a few nights.  I would recommend this book to others, especially if they enjoyed Reliable Wife also by Robert Goolrick. 

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Other Bloggers Reviews :
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Rhapsody in Books
Into the Hall of Books
Literate Housewife
Happy Reading!






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