How to be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman

How to be a Good Wife by Emma ChapmanHardcover, 288 pages
Published October 15th 2013

One day, my friend asked me for my address because she wanted to send me something. I gave it to her and a week or so later, I received a package. This package contained one item. A book, titled “How to be a Good Wife.” At first, I laughed. My friend is married and she’s probably ‘hinting;’ that I should get hitched too. Then I was kind of offended. Normally, people just ask you, “Hey, when are you getting married.” Or “Are you thinking of settling down.” Or, if you’re mom, you ask “When are you going to start giving me grandkids.” All of those are fine, but they wouldn’t send you a book called, “How to be a Good Wife.”

I wasn’t really sure how to approach my friend after this, so I did the only logical thing at this point. I turned the book over and read the synopsis to see if the book was good. Turns out, this wasn’t from my friend at all. It was from a giveaway I won at Goodreads. And it’s not really a manual on how to be a good wife; it’s a psychological thriller, which sounds so much better.

But is it?

How to be a Good Wife is a beautifully written tale about Marta, an unreliable narrator who is going through a mid life crises when her son decides to leaves home. To an outside looking in, she seems like someone who simply needs to go out more. But Marta refuses to believe that what she is going through life, especially because she can’t remember anything that happened before. Hector, Marta’s husband, is supportive and loving, but Marta can’t seem to trust him. So when he tells her to take her pills, she chucks them away.

It’s through this action that Marta starts to see a blond girl, a girl no one but she can see. The more she sees the girl, the more she’s drawn to her and the more her memories from the past come alive. But are they real, or are they hallucinations from a sick person who simply needs to take her meds?

Before I get into the book, let me start by saying Emma Chapman is probably an author you need to watch. Her writing is beautiful and throughout the novel it had such a haunting melancholy vibe to it that I couldn’t get enough of.

I also liked how the book started off as a drama and then worked its way into the more psychological aspect of the novel. I know some won’t like this and find it tedious and maybe even boring, but I thought it helped show how unreliable Marta is as a narrator.

On the downside, I think this book suffers from similar-book-in-synopsisitis. And yes, I just made that up. Before I read ‘How to be a Good Wife,’ I read ‘Before I go to Sleep’ by SJ Watson. Knowing the twist in that book made me figure out some of what was going on this book before I was supposed to. Some things are the same, but they are very different novels. I just wish it wasn’t mentioned in the blurb, because it did ruin some things for me.

If you did read Before I go to Sleep and are now put off by this, don’t be. How to be a Good Wife may have similar themes to it, but it’s different. Plus, we never really find out what happened and if this is all in Marta’s head. I’d like to think it isn’t, but that’s simply up to the reader to decide.

Had I not read ‘Before I go to Sleep’ first and if it wasn’t on the blurb, I think I might have enjoyed this one a lot more. That being said, it was still a good read. I look forward to reading more from Chapman.

Would I recommend it: Yea, I would. Definitely give this one a try.


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