Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman

Pages: 288
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: October 15, 2013
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In the tradition of Emma Donoghue's Room and S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, a haunting literary debut about a woman who begins having visions that make her question everything she knows. Marta and Hector have been married for a long time. Through the good and bad; through raising a son and sending him off to life after university. So long, in fact, that Marta finds it difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day. But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something."
Marta Bjornstad is suffering a bit from empty nest syndrome. Her only child, Kylan, has moved out and is busy with his career in the city.  Her husband is always busy with his job as a teacher and is extremely dedicated to his students.  Marta, a bored housewife, finds her life to be utterly tedious, but things start to liven up a bit once she starts seeing things.  For example, she finds cigarettes in her purse and finds herself smoking them, yet she has never smoked before.  She also starts to have visions of a blonde girl, but she isn't sure if she is imagining things, because she has gone of her medication without her husband knowing.  As she gets off her medication, she starts to have more visions and demonstrates some strange behavior, but what is more upsetting is the fact that she realizes she has no memories of her life before her husband.  Marta starts to question everything and the further she searches her memories, the stranger and more chilling it gets.  Emma Chapman's debut, How To Be a Good Wife, is an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that had me flipping pages dying to know what on earth was happening to Marta.

Marta's life really freaked me out. She is definitely a troubled person, but I felt for her as he husband is controlling and manipulative. Her mother-in-law is also a nightmare and made me roll my eyes on more than one occasion. She is the one who gave Marta the book How To Be a Good Wife which outlines her wifely duties that seem very seem very retro and demeaning. I felt the walls of Marta's world closing in, especially as he went through her mundane life.  She has no hobbies, no friends, and finds herself cleaning, cooking, and drinking wine to get through the day.  Marta is also hyper-focused on her son to the point where she can't even let him go and ends up alienating him.  As she stops taking her medication, more of her memories come back to haunt her as well as visions of a young girl.  It took awhile for me to get used to Marta's perspective as she is the quintessential unreliable narrator, but How To Be a Good Wife is the type of story where you just have to go with it and trust that the author will explain things as the story unfolds.

How To Be a Good Wife is the perfect read for the fall. I love curling up with a spooky read and this book is just that. It's not too freaky (otherwise I wouldn't read it), but it's haunting, really makes you think and try to figure out what is happening to Marta. Chapman does a great job building suspense as things come to the surface for Marta and the reality begins to set in.

My only issue with How To Be a Good Wife is the resolution. It felt really sad and I wish things would have turned out differently for Marta; however, it fit the eerie quality of the novel.  Nonetheless, Chapman is a talented debut author that is definitely on my radar and I will keep an eye out for her future work.

Thanks to St. Martin's, I have two ARCs to give away to two lucky readers from the US/Canada.  Please refer to my giveaway rules and be sure to enter using the Rafflecopter below. The deadline is October 27th. Good luck!


  1. I keep hearing good things about this one. :)

    1. It's a good read for October--very thrilling/spooky. Thanks for visiting, Juju!

  2. Glad to hear this is a good read. I have it on my tbr stack. I think I'll read it next since it is a good spooky read.

    1. It's definitely perfect for the fall season. I hope you enjoy it, Beth! Thanks for visiting!

  3. I'm really intrigued with this book! It definitely sounds creepy and I love a book that keeps you guessing.

    1. It is definitely creepy!! I hope you get to read it soon. Thanks for dropping by, Andrea.


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