Friday, March 8, 2013
Book Club Pick: Heading Out To Wonderful (now in paperback)
by Robert Goolrick
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
2013 (hardcover edition 2012)
now in paperback
Poignant, passionate, and perfect, Heading Out to Wonderful weaves a cautionary tale for young men who dare to dream and young women who reach for the blazing stars.
Charlie Beale arrives in sleepy Brownsburg, Virginia, with a dream, a past, and a ton of money. He is a stranger to the people here, and they don't trust strangers. He buys land down near the river and keeps to himself. Charlie takes a job at the local butcher shop and becomes friendly with the butcher, his wife and young son. A single, good looking young man in a small town becomes fodder for the town's gossip mills; there are whispers about what Charlie does and what he really wants.
Charlie just wants to buy land...a lot of it. He has a yearning to own property--a need so deep that even when he owns more land than anyone, he is not sated. Charlie doesn't have a name for what bothers him...until he sees...her. Sylvan Glass, the wife of the town's richest and most powerful man.
Sylvan is a country girl; she is a hillbilly with no education, but she has dreams. She always wanted to be a movie star or live like one. She is infatuated with movie star glamour and hires the best seamstress in town to sew her Hollywood style outfits. Sylvan dreams of money, glamour and romance. Through her rose colored glasses, anything is possible. Charlie becomes her movie star and she becomes his muse.
It is only natural for masculine speciman Charlie and beautiful, dreamy Sylvan to fall hopelessly in love. They share a bond so deep, so tangible, that it can only result in trouble. The duo is destined for tragedy from their first encounter.
Goolrick builds a great story layer upon layer, deftly telling the story of Charlie and Sylvan's star-crossed romance while he builds the back story of a young boy's coming of age story--where the boy has to accept that his hero is not perfect.
Heading Out to Wonderful will resonate with readers. The setting of small town post-war Virginia harkens back to Mayberry RFD, and you expect Gomer or Andy to wave hello to you. This is Anywhere, USA--1948--and it couldn't be more nostalgic.
The novel has a tragic ending, of course, but one I wasn't prepared for. I loved the storytelling and I loved the love story, but it took me two weeks to digest this story. It is a beautiful story and it is a terrible story. There is much to discover here for book club members.
Highly, highly recommended for mature readers and book clubs. Grade 9-adult. Sex and mature situations.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.