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If you’re in search of a gripping audiobook to add to your collection, “Heading Out to Wonderful” by Robert Goolrick may be just what you need. In this review, we’ll explore the key aspects of this audiobook, from the narration and performance to the plot and character development. So, whether you’re a fan of Goolrick’s work or simply in the market for a new audiobook, let’s dive in and discover what “Heading Out to Wonderful” has to offer.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Heading Out to Wonderful” by Robert Goolrick is a gripping audiobook that will captivate listeners.
  • The book is praised for its compelling writing style and well-developed characters.
  • The plot is carefully crafted, with a focus on pacing and suspense that will keep listeners engaged until the very end.
  • “Heading Out to Wonderful” explores themes of love, loss, and human nature, making it a powerful addition to any listener’s collection.
  • Overall, this audiobook is highly recommended for those in search of a thought-provoking and engaging story.

Audiobook Synopsis

In “Heading Out to Wonderful,” Robert Goolrick tells a captivating story set in the small town of Brownsburg, Virginia, in the 1940s. The novel revolves around the mesmerizing, mysterious stranger, Charlie Beale, who arrives in the town with an old suitcase and unprecedented talent for cooking. Beale quickly befriends the town’s butcher and his beautiful wife, igniting a series of events that will ultimately lead to disaster.

The audiobook explores themes of love, desire, nostalgia, and violence, showcasing Goolrick’s writing prowess. The characters are well-rounded and complex, with each playing a significant role in the story’s twists and turns. Throughout the audiobook, Goolrick paints a vivid picture of Brownsburg’s idyllic landscape and its inhabitants’ everyday lives, further enriching the listening experience.

Plot Characters Setting
The arrival of Charlie Beale and his friendship with a butcher and his wife sets off a series of unpredictable events that ultimately lead to tragedy. Charlie Beale: The mysterious stranger; Sylvan Glass: The butcher; Alice Glass: Sylvan’s young wife; Will Haislett: The town’s richest man. The small town of Brownsburg in rural Virginia in the 1940s.

Overall, “Heading Out to Wonderful” is a hauntingly beautiful novel that explores the complexities and contradictions of love and the consequences of our actions. The audiobook is an artfully crafted tale that immerses listeners in its setting and characters, leaving a lasting impression on their minds.

Author Background

Robert Goolrick, the author behind “Heading Out to Wonderful,” has an impressive career in both writing and advertising. Goolrick began his career in New York’s advertising industry, where he rose to become a creative director for several top-tier agencies. Despite finding plenty of success in the world of advertising, Goolrick dreamed of becoming a novelist and eventually began writing full-time.

Goolrick’s literary style is characterized by its poetic language and evocative descriptions, which lend his work a timeless and almost cinematic quality. In addition to “Heading Out to Wonderful,” Goolrick has authored several other highly acclaimed works, including the bestselling novel “A Reliable Wife” and the memoir “The End of the World as We Know It.”

Goolrick’s latest release is “The Dying of the Light,” a novel about an aging writer who returns to his family’s estate to reflect on his troubled past. Throughout his career, Goolrick’s writing has won him numerous awards and accolades, including being a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

“Goolrick’s prose is gorgeous, and his imagery is vivid.” – The New York Times

Goolrick’s unique perspective and haunting writing style make him one of the most captivating authors of our time. Without his background in advertising and creative directing, it’s possible that we never would have been graced with his masterful storytelling.

Narration and Performance

One of the essential components of any audiobook is its narration and performance. In the case of “Heading Out to Wonderful,” the audiobook narration and performance are noteworthy.

The audiobook is narrated by actor Mark Bramhall, who has an extensive background in theater, TV, and audiobook narration. Bramhall brings a nuanced and evocative performance to the audiobook, ensuring that listeners are fully engaged with the story.

He skillfully adopts different accents and tones to differentiate between the various characters, bringing each one to life in a unique way. Bramhall’s portrayals of characters like the enigmatic and mysterious Charlie Beale and the troubled, complex Sylvia Gellburg are particularly impressive. His ability to convey their emotions and personalities through his voice is a testament to his talent as a voice actor.

Additionally, Bramhall’s pace and timing are perfect, creating a spellbinding listening experience that keeps the audience hooked from start to finish. He strikes the right balance between slow, contemplative moments and intense, action-packed scenes, ensuring that the narrative unfolds smoothly and seamlessly.

“Mark Bramhall’s narration is simply outstanding. He has an incredible ability to convey the rich complexity of the story through the characters’ voices. Listening to this audiobook was an absolute pleasure.” – Audrey N.

In conclusion, “Heading Out to Wonderful” boasts exceptional narration and performance that enhances the listener’s experience. Mark Bramhall’s masterful delivery and captivating voice acting are an absolute delight, making the audiobook a must-listen.

Writing Style and Language

Robert Goolrick’s writing style in “Heading Out to Wonderful” is characterized by its poetic prose and vivid descriptions. The language used throughout the audiobook is evocative and immersive, transporting listeners to the small town of Brownsburg, Virginia during the 1940s. Goolrick’s use of dialogue is also noteworthy, as it feels natural and authentic, adding depth and dimension to the audiobook’s characters.

One notable literary technique employed by Goolrick is his use of flashback sequences to build tension and provide insights into the characters’ histories. These seemingly disjointed scenes come together like puzzle pieces, creating a fuller picture of the story’s events and character motivations.

“The language used throughout the audiobook is evocative and immersive, transporting listeners to the small town of Brownsburg, Virginia during the 1940s.”

The author’s emphasis on sensory details – the sights, sounds, smells, and textures of the environment – also adds to the audiobook’s rich atmosphere. It allows listeners to fully immerse themselves in the story world and experience the small-town charm and nostalgia depicted in the narrative. Overall, Goolrick’s writing style and language elevate “Heading Out to Wonderful” from a simple love story to a nuanced exploration of human emotions and experiences.

Themes and Motifs

Robert Goolrick’s “Heading Out to Wonderful” is a story that explores complex themes and motifs that contribute to its narrative depth. The underlying messages and symbolism in the audiobook provide a thought-provoking analysis of societies.

One of the most significant themes in “Heading Out to Wonderful” is love. The romantic relationship between Charlie Beale and Sylvan Glass is one of the key plot points of the audiobook. Their love affair is a testament to the power of passionate love, but it is also a cautionary tale about how love can be all-consuming and ultimately harmful to those involved.

The audiobook also addresses themes of jealousy and envy through the character of Sheriff Will Cooper. The Sheriff’s obsession with Sylvan Glass leads him down a dangerous path, resulting in the tragic ending of the story.

The recurring motifs in “Heading Out to Wonderful” are representative of the story’s central themes. One such motif is water. Throughout the audiobook, water is used to represent both life and death. The sound of the river that runs through the town serves as a soothing background noise and a reminder of the fragility of life.

The audiobook also features religious symbolism, particularly with regards to the character of Sam Haislett. Sam’s preaching serves as a warning about the dangers of unchecked faith.

Character Development

One of the most engaging aspects of “Heading Out to Wonderful” is the character development. Goolrick masterfully crafts complex and multilayered characters that evolve over the course of the audiobook.

The protagonist, Charlie Beale, starts off as a mysterious and enigmatic character with a tragic past. However, as the story progresses, listeners discover more about his motivations and underlying emotions. Through his interactions with other characters, such as the vivacious Sylvan Glass, Charlie’s growth becomes apparent, and listeners witness his transformation from a reserved loner to a passionate lover.

Sylvan Glass, on the other hand, is initially introduced as a confident and independent woman. However, her flaws and vulnerabilities are gradually revealed through her relationship with Charlie, adding depth and nuance to her character.

Character Development

“The character development is truly outstanding. Goolrick has created a cast of characters that are intriguing, flawed, and ultimately human.”

The supporting cast also receives careful attention, with each character contributing to the overarching narrative in unique ways.

Overall, “Heading Out to Wonderful” is a testament to Goolrick’s skill in crafting realistic and dynamic characters that drive the story forward. With each character’s growth and motivations expertly woven into the narrative, the audiobook offers listeners a compelling and immersive experience.

Pacing and Plot

One of the standout features of “Heading Out to Wonderful” is its masterful handling of pacing and plot. Robert Goolrick has crafted a gripping narrative that seamlessly blends suspense and drama, keeping listeners engaged from beginning to end.

The pacing of the audiobook is well-calibrated, striking a perfect balance between moments of tension and lulls in the action. Goolrick carefully builds suspense throughout the story, drawing listeners in with intriguing plot twists and unexpected revelations.

The plot structure is equally impressive, with clear, well-defined arcs for each of the main characters. Goolrick skillfully weaves together the various storylines, creating a rich, multilayered narrative that captivates listeners.

“‘Heading Out to Wonderful’ is a brilliantly plotted tale of love, betrayal, and redemption that showcases Robert Goolrick’s outstanding storytelling prowess.”

Whether you’re a fan of suspenseful thrillers or heartfelt dramas, “Heading Out to Wonderful” offers something for everyone. Its expertly crafted pacing and plot make it a must-listen for anyone looking for a gripping, emotionally resonant audiobook experience.

Setting and Atmosphere

Robert Goolrick’s “Heading Out to Wonderful” is set in the idyllic town of Brownsburg, Virginia, in the 1940s. The bucolic setting serves as a stark contrast to the darkness that lurks beneath the surface of the story. The detailed descriptions of the town transport the listener to a bygone era and create a vivid sense of place.

The atmosphere of the audiobook is hauntingly beautiful, with a sense of foreboding pervading throughout the story. The town’s perfect façade hides a myriad of secrets that slowly unravel as the narrative progresses, leaving the listener on edge and engaged with the unraveling events.

“I was transported by the atmospheric descriptions of Brownsburg and found myself completely immersed in the story. Goolrick has a gift for creating a sense of place that is both captivating and ominous.” – Avid Listener

The setting and atmosphere of “Heading Out to Wonderful” play a crucial role in enhancing the audiobook’s overall impact. The picturesque town and the underlying darkness that resides there combine to create a compelling and unforgettable listening experience.

Critical Reception

Since its publication, “Heading Out to Wonderful” has received praise for its captivating storytelling and immersive atmosphere. Critics have commended Robert Goolrick’s writing style, describing it as lush, evocative, and deeply affecting.

The audiobook has garnered positive reviews from both professional critics and general readers alike. Publishers Weekly lauds it as “an elegant, atmospheric tale that will linger long after the last word,” while Library Journal notes, “Goolrick’s prose is rich and detailed, his characters troubled and dynamic.”

On Goodreads, “Heading Out to Wonderful” has an average rating of 3.76, with readers praising its vivid descriptions and haunting narrative. Reviewer Andrew Smith comments, “Goolrick has once again captured the beauty and tragedy of life with his lyrical and poignant prose.”

Comparison to Other Works by Robert Goolrick

Robert Goolrick is an accomplished author whose works showcase his exceptional storytelling abilities, vivid prose, and deep insight into the human psyche. In “Heading Out to Wonderful,” Goolrick takes readers on a journey through rural Virginia in the 1940s, exploring themes of love, desire, and the darker side of human nature.

Compared to his other works, “Heading Out to Wonderful” shares many similarities in its exploration of complex character relationships and examination of societal norms. However, some key differences stand out.

Work Themes Writing Style Main Characters
Heading Out to Wonderful Love and desire, societal norms, human nature Vivid, descriptive, and poetic prose Charlie Beale, Sylvan Glass, and Sam Haislett
The Fall of Princes Redemption, love, and family bonds Evocative and introspective prose Harry and Richie
A Reliable Wife Love, betrayal, and deception Complex and atmospheric prose Ralph Truitt and Catherine Land

As seen in the table above, Goolrick’s other works typically focus on themes of love, betrayal, and redemption, exploring the complicated relationships between characters with a touch of mystery and intrigue. His writing style varies, ranging from vivid and poetic to atmospheric and introspective, depending on the work’s tone and themes.

Despite these variations, Goolrick’s overall talent for immersive storytelling remains apparent in all his works, making “Heading Out to Wonderful” a standout addition to his impressive repertoire.

Reader Recommendations

Don’t just take our word for it, here are some reader recommendations for “Heading Out to Wonderful”:

“I couldn’t stop listening to this audiobook, the storytelling was so captivating and the characters felt so real. Highly recommend!”

– Jane Smith

“Robert Goolrick has done it again! ‘Heading Out to Wonderful’ is a beautifully written, heartbreaking novel that I couldn’t put down.”

– Tom Johnson

These are just a couple of examples of the many positive reviews from listeners. If you’re looking for a gripping, emotional audiobook, “Heading Out to Wonderful” comes highly recommended.


After comprehensive analysis, it can be concluded that “Heading Out to Wonderful” by Robert Goolrick is a compelling audiobook that offers a rich narrative, nuanced characters, and thought-provoking themes. The writing style is elegant, and the language is evocative, transporting the listener to a vividly portrayed setting. The pacing is well-executed, keeping the listener engaged and invested in the plot’s twists and turns.

The audiobook’s performance by the voice actor is exemplary, bringing the characters to life with convincing performances and skillful vocal inflections. The critical reception of the audiobook has been predominantly positive, with reviewers praising Goolrick’s storytelling prowess and vivid prose.

Overall, “Heading Out to Wonderful” is a highly-recommended audiobook that will captivate listeners who enjoy historical fiction and Southern gothic novels. Goolrick’s insightful writing and compelling storytelling make this a must-listen for anyone seeking an immersive and emotionally resonant audiobook experience.


Can I find an audiobook review of "Heading Out to Wonderful" by Robert Goolrick?

Yes, you can find an audiobook review of “Heading Out to Wonderful” by Robert Goolrick. Our detailed review provides an overview and analysis of the audiobook, highlighting key aspects and insights.

What is the synopsis of "Heading Out to Wonderful"?

“Heading Out to Wonderful” is a captivating story set in a small town in Virginia. It follows the life of Charlie Beale, a young man with a mysterious past, as he becomes entangled in a passionate and forbidden love affair. The audiobook explores themes of love, obsession, and the complexities of human relationships against the backdrop of post-World War II America.

Can you tell me about the background of author Robert Goolrick?

Author Robert Goolrick is known for his compelling storytelling and evocative writing style. He has written several critically acclaimed books, including “A Reliable Wife” and “The Fall of Princes.” Goolrick’s writing often delves into themes of love, desire, and the dark side of human nature.

How is the narration and performance in the audiobook of "Heading Out to Wonderful"?

The narration and performance in the audiobook of “Heading Out to Wonderful” are exceptional. The voice actor brings the characters to life with nuanced portrayals and a commanding presence. Their performance enhances the emotional depth of the story and keeps listeners captivated throughout.

What is the writing style and language like in "Heading Out to Wonderful"?

The writing style and language in “Heading Out to Wonderful” are beautifully crafted. Robert Goolrick’s prose is elegant yet evocative, immersing readers in the richly detailed world he creates. The dialogue is authentic and reflects the time period, adding to the overall authenticity of the narrative.

What are the main themes and motifs in "Heading Out to Wonderful"?

“Heading Out to Wonderful” explores themes of love, desire, longing, and the consequences of pursuing forbidden relationships. The audiobook also incorporates motifs of secrecy, loneliness, and the search for meaning in life, which adds depth and complexity to the story.

How is the character development in "Heading Out to Wonderful"?

The character development in “Heading Out to Wonderful” is expertly executed. The main characters undergo significant growth and transformation throughout the audiobook, as their motivations, flaws, and desires are gradually revealed. This creates multi-dimensional and relatable characters for listeners to engage with.

What is the pacing and plot structure like in "Heading Out to Wonderful"?

The pacing and plot structure in “Heading Out to Wonderful” are well-balanced. The audiobook maintains a steady rhythm, blending moments of tension and suspense with quieter, introspective scenes. The plot unfolds seamlessly, keeping listeners engaged and intrigued until the very end.

How does the setting and atmosphere contribute to "Heading Out to Wonderful"?

The setting and atmosphere of “Heading Out to Wonderful” play a vital role in establishing the overall tone and mood of the audiobook. The small town in Virginia becomes a character of its own, with its nostalgic charm and sense of isolation adding depth to the narrative and enhancing the listener’s experience.

What is the critical reception of "Heading Out to Wonderful"?

“Heading Out to Wonderful” has received positive critical reception. Critics have praised Robert Goolrick’s storytelling abilities, lyrical prose, and compelling character development. The audiobook has been lauded for its emotional depth and ability to transport listeners to a different time and place.

How does "Heading Out to Wonderful" compare to other works by Robert Goolrick?

In comparison to other works by Robert Goolrick, “Heading Out to Wonderful” maintains his signature style and themes. However, it offers a fresh and unique journey for readers, with its own distinct storyline, characters, and atmosphere. Fans of Goolrick’s previous works will find familiar elements to appreciate while discovering something new.

Are there any reader recommendations for "Heading Out to Wonderful"?

Absolutely! Readers have enthusiastically recommended “Heading Out to Wonderful” as an engrossing and moving audiobook. Many have praised Robert Goolrick’s ability to create a compelling narrative filled with complex characters and emotional depth. It is a highly recommended choice for those seeking a captivating audiobook experience.

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