Heading Out to Wonderful Summary and Reviews

Heading Out to Wonderful

A Novel

by Robert Goolrick

Heading Out to Wonderful
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2012
    304 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

In Heading Out to Wonderful, an attractive and enigmatic stranger - Charlie Beale, a loner, recently home from World War II in Europe - wanders into the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village of only a few hundred people nestled in the Valley of Virginia. He brings with him two suitcases: one contains all his worldly possessions, including a set of butcher's knives; the other is full of money.

Charlie quickly finds a job at the local butcher shop and through his work there meets all the townspeople, most notably Sam Haislett, the five-year-old son of the shop's owner, and Sylvan Glass, the beautiful, eccentric teenage bride of the town's richest man. What no one anticipates is how the interaction of these three people will alter the town forever, and how the passion that flares between Charlie and Sylvan will mark young Sam for life.

Told through the eyes of Sam, now an older man looking back on that time, Heading Out to Wonderland is an exciting, erotically charged, and altogether unforgettable story of love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a time such things could happen.

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Some of the recent comments posted about Heading Out to Wonderful:

Bazooka tree
The Bazooka tree was a unique idea. Kids would love that. Great during a party. However, adults must make sure the games in a party or activities for kids are safe. When the gum was put up so high in the tree encouraging Sam to climb to get them ... - terri

Before Sylvan and Charlie get together, you know they are fated to be together; what keeps the pages turning in this electric buildup?
I like to follow a story when you need to experience the build up of a relationship. It is more real to me and a much better reading experience. - laurieh

Coming to terms with life's compromises
In life many people remain in "All Right" on the way to "Wonderful." Rather reminds me of an old Peggy Lee song which laments the question: Is that all there is? - MarieA

Does the revival of "vintage" goods hold appeal for you? Do we have a special place in our hearts for the "good old days"?
I love the idea of vintage goods, and stories of the good old days- both my version of the good times for me, and the stories I grew up with from my parent's generation which became a part of my vision of the past. I think its great, and we all do, ... - judym

Heading Out to Wonderful
I enjoyed this book with its complicated characters. I appreciate that not all was as it seemed and some surprises were there for the reader to discover and marvel at. In fact, I enjoyed the book so much that I have now a copy of the author's first... - Lea Ann

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Goolrick effortlessly creates a timeless, erotically charged tale of illicit passion and peoples it with a unique cast of characters, ranging from a gifted black seamstress to a country girl besotted with Hollywood movie stars and fashion. Finely crafted fiction from a captivating writer." - Booklist

"Like any good ballad, the narrative builds slowly to its violent climax, packs an emotional punch, and then haunts readers with its quintessentially American refrain." - Publishers Weekly

"Goolrick (A Reliable Wife) creates a timeless town where memory of an affair and crime can haunt forever. A lyrical yet suspenseful novel for general fiction readers." - Library Journal

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Reader Reviews

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P.J.Craig

Heading Out to Wonderful
Loved this book. Characters are well drawn and very believable. Story line departs from the usual and kept this reader wanting more.

Shelly

Heading Out To Wonderful
I could not put this book down. I read it in just a few days. I read A Reliable Wife, and was happy to read this second book. I knew Goolrick writes dark, gothic kind of books, so I was prepared for the same in this book. I knew it would not be a good ending. But, I was unprepared for it nonetheless. Although I should have seen it coming.

I was drawn into the characters and their many flaws. Charlie, where did he get his money? Sylvan, drawn into her dreams of Hollywood. Of course, I felt very badly for Sam. He was the most damaged by it all. I was very upset with Charlie.

Overall, I loved the book. I would recommend it and may use it for my book club.

Mary

Heading Out to Wonderful
I read A Reliable Wife (by this author) some time ago and I have been eagerly awaiting this new book. Often the "next" book does not come intrigue me quite as much as the first, but this was an exception. The beautiful, flawless use of language is the same. The setting powerfully ( a small country town) defines the characters and moves the plot forward. And there is also a wife in this book who is also unreliable. She came from way out in the country where "children had never met anyone who was not related to them,and was bought by the richest man in town, to be his wife. A dark love story unfolds after she meets Charlie Beale, the town butcher, and this book kept me turning every page. I was not prepared for the ending and I slept with the light on after I closed the book.

Diane S.

Heading out to wonderful
As I started reading this novel I kept picturing the black and white movies I used to watch with my grandfather, the ones starring Bette Davis or June Allyson because that is the feeling and the tone that this novel sets. It opens with a chapter narrated by an man in his sixties, telling the story of what happened in this town when he was a young boy of 5 and 6. So we know from the beginning that this is not going to be a happy little novel. I was not a big fan of Goolrick's last novel but I absolutely loved this one. The prose and the descriptions are wonderfully elegant, the townspeople for the most part likable and at the same times complex. . The time period of the forties and the wholesome goodness and innocence of that time are all wonderfully related. Charlie himself, could have been any drifter albeit one with quite a bit of money, looking for a town to call his own. The tragedy, from this man's telling was such a downfall, and totally shocking to this reader, such a shame. Really did not see it coming. So many things are touched on here, black and white relations, religion, moral standards and yes an all consuming love. To be honest I will probably go back and read it again just to see what I missed and try to figure out exactly why it happened. Thought provoking novel of a time gone by and one that will engender many discussions.

Christie Keele

Heading Out to Wonderful
I read Robert Goolrick's new book, Heading Out to Wonderful, in two days. While this isn't unusual for me, I found I couldn't put this particular book down. Just as in A Reliable Wife, this novel exhibits a compelling plot with clever, heartfelt characters. Goolrick is quickly becoming a master in creating a uniquely different story...one that has plot twists and turns, and one that has unique, insightful characters that speak of humanity and offers insight into the human condition. Goolrick's characters offer both sides of a person, drawing us into their personal motives, and at the same time, creating compassion for them. But not all the characters in this story are good, which lends excitement to the plot, and gives further insight into how people deal with decisions of the heart, and in this case, maybe life and death. I loved this story. Charles is a good fellow to love, and you'll be drawn in by Sam, the little boy who is most affected by the character's actions. Goolrick is talented in creating a setting that draws the reader in, makes you feel as if you're there, a part of it. I applaud Goolrick's style, his rich language, honest depictions, and the twists he lends his stories. Loved the surprises! As they say, this is a "must read!"

lorraine

Heading out to Wonderful?
I gave Robert Goolrick's second novel a 4 rating because I think his writing is fluid and detailed. However, I was not satisfied with his treatment of women characters. Sylvan in particular was shallow and easily manipulated by men. She seemed to be interested only in appearances and was unable to love anyone, including herself. It was hard to imagine her character as a real person. Charlie and Sylvan's relationship seemed based primarily on sexual satisfaction. I really hated the way Charlie abused his relationship with Sam, exposing him to his tawdry affair with Sylvan. The ending was dark, shocking and just a little unbelievable. As in his first novel, Goolrick seems obsessed with female characters who are manipulative and false and their lovers/husbands who become obsessed with them.

...5 more reader reviews

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Robert Goolrick is the author of A Reliable Wife and the acclaimed memoir The End of the World as We Know It. He lives in a small Virginia town. Visit him online at http://robertgoolrick.com.

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