Heading Out To Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

In 1948, in a small town in Virginia, not much happened and the people liked it that way.  Your mail, your routines, were predictable and comforting, and no one….not one person had any inkling as they sipped their coffee and enjoyed their newspaper; that all… was about to change.

Charlie Beale arrived in this very small town, yes, the one I just spoke of above, with two suitcases.  One was filled with his earthly possessions.  The other, with money.  Charlie is self-assured, fairly good-looking, well-mannered and clean.  He has no trouble securing a job at the local butchers with his amazing skills of butchering just right and every cut is mouth-watering tender.  Charlie feels welcomed and soon buys himself a home and spends his free time fishing and playing ball with his bosses son Sam.

Elsewhere in town, Harrison Glass, the richest (and possibly the meanest) man in the area, has “saved” a poor family from loosing their homestead by offering to buy their pretty daughter to become his wife.  Sylvan is only 17 years old, she is a beautiful long-legged creature with little education.  Once married to  he much older Harrison, she takes a liking to picture shows and magazines filled with glamorous dressed women.  Sylvan finds a local woman to sew her the fine garments that she sees in the movies and in the magazines, and while the whole town finds her ridiculous dressed in such finery and going nowhere…. one person, finds her irresistible.  Charlie Beale.

When Charlie first lays eyes on the beautiful Mrs. Glass he can not stop thinking about her.  Soon he is finding excuses to stop by her home, bringing along Sam and his new dog Jackie Robinson to keep the visits looking innocent.  Sylvan has no love lost between herself and her husband.  Harrison merely wanted a trophy wife but she easily annoys him and he is quick with his fists.  In Charlie she finds a much gentler man, one she never knew existed.

Of course, small towns do not miss much and it is only a matter of time until there are whispers of Charlie’s truck parked at the Glass house mid day while Harrison is away.  And a young boy and a dog may make it seem all so innocent… but truth has a way of climbing and crawling to the surface…

As shared on Algonquin books site

Why did I want to read this book?  I had seen the buzz about it on the blogs and thought the story line sounded wonderful.  When I was able to pick it up on audio thanks to Audio Jukebox, I was excited to give it a try.


Heading Out To Wonderful was narrated by Norman Dietz.  Norman had a great voice for this novel, soft and crackly at the edges, he tells the story smoothly and gave me visions of an elderly man sitting on a front porch sharing a tale. 

Heading Out To Wonderful was a well written book that moved smoothly through Charlie coming to town to Harrison’s purchase of a wife, back and forth the two story lines swing as though on a pendulum, keeping time and never losing me as each story heard steadily towards the other.  I don’t think author Robert Goolrick missed a beat when he wrote this.  Usually in a book with so many details and happenings a loose end lays to the wayside and as the book closes I think about the loose end… where should it have went?  Why was it not tied up?  That was not the case here.  Even as I think back fondly on this story for this review, I can not think of one thing that did not come into closure. 

And really people, what a story.  If you can imagine, Charlie Beale, the man that everyone in town has come to love (for reasons I can not mention in this review to avoid spoilers) falling for the girl who no one really knows or likes because of her odd sense of dress, her inability to socialize with the other women in town, and of course the man she is married to. 

Never dragging, never dull, there are plenty of small town happenings to keep our readers minds busy throughout and then at the end… at the end… when all comes to a head… I was shocked, and yet it made sense after I let that initial emotion run its course… as the audio came to an end, I breathed in deeply knowing I had indeed just experienced something wonderful. 

I suggest treat your self to the book or the audio, I suspect both are amazing.

Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

Thank you audible Jukebox for connecting me with this audio book!

20 thoughts on “Heading Out To Wonderful by Robert Goolrick

  1. Sheila, thanks for the great review. It sounds like a good old fashioned story. I will defintely be reading this one. Enjoy your weekend.

  2. I also enjoyed this book, but certain plot points annoyed and confounded me. WHY did he keep taking the boy with him on his trips to the “country”? He didn’t need to, but I guess the plot would not have progressed the same way. Just wondering what you thought.

    1. I think the parents understood how close Charlie was to the boy and Sam adores Charlie so they thought what was the harm? Other than the “pit stops” at Sylvan’s, they did fish and play ball frequently and play with the dog. Anyhoo… thats what I thought 😀

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