Melissa P. (Greenville, NY)
How to be a Good Wife
This book reminded me of Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson. Marta's mind seemed to be playing tricks on her all of the time--things seemed to be memories but she couldn't be sure if they were real or not. The book had good twists and turns.
Sheryl R. (DeQuincy, LA)
The best kind of thriller
I love books that tell a deep story and that keep me guessing, but I reserve my highest praise for those which make me feel that story in my gut. From the moment I began this book, I was filled with a sense of foreboding and disorientation. The author's very words seemed to convey a sense of doom and darkness which I felt so palpably that I had to stop and process both the story and my feelings on several occasions. What exactly was going on? On so many levels, I identified with this woman who seemed to be dealing with a troubled marriage, an empty nest, a childhood filled with trauma, mental illness, and on and on. But then, was that REALLY what the author was implying. I suspect that every person who reads the book will have very different experiences, viewpoints, and opinions which will make this book ideal for book club discussions. The ending, to me, was fitting and not completely unexpected. I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy experiencing those works of art which touch the most frightening parts of being human.
Claire M. (New York, NY)
How to be a good wife
Wow! What a wonderful read this book was! Skillful writing and plotting takes us through the lonely marriage of Marta Bjornstad. There are feminist issues raised tracing the marriage from its shadowy beginning; a husband too dominated by his mother who seemingly is concerned about the mental health of his wife. But is his wife being manipulated by his concerns? As Marta begins to rely more on her own instincts she begins to think about her past and in doing so, raises the spectre of paranoia, which ultimately creates an ambiguity that will be read differently by the marital or feminist position of the reader. Emma Chapman has delivered a stunning debut.
Jan T. (Leona Valley, CA)
How to Be a Good Wife
A creepy psychological thriller about a wife slowly remembering her life prior to her very disturbing marriage. At time confusing - it is difficult to ascertain reality vs. hallucinations. Is the wife delusional or recalling memories? It is unpleasant but I couldn't put it down. It is short (160 pages) but includes a plot twist which concludes the story nicely. I would recommend it as a book club read as there is much to be discussed - especially a book club comprised of women. The book's theme is topical. I don't want to spoil the surprise.
Rosemary C. (Austin, TX)
A disconcerting life
An eerie, haunting story told in dark detail. We are inside the mind of Marta, witnessing all her thoughts. Are we seeing a descent into madness or something else? Either way, it is so precisely and graphically written that it was painful to read at times - but compelling.
Sandy K. (Iowa City, IA)
How To Be A Good Wife
The author puts the reader squarely into Marta's story through abundant detail about settings and actions as well as by writing in first person with Marta as narrator. We are able to experience Marta's thoughts, memories, and confusing visions, which tend to enhance our uncertainty about the truth. The central mystery is made possible partly by Marta's strict adherence to the role of a traditional housewife. The reader is motivated to continue reading by a desire to see if and how she breaks her bonds.
Kathryn M. (Bethel, CT)
How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman
Marta and Hector have been married for over 20 years, have a grown son, and live a comfortable life in a suburban village. Something is not quite right with Marta. At first it seems as if Marta is suffering from Empty Nest Syndrome. Slowly little bits and pieces are revealed, but as a reader you are not sure if Marta is depressed, sick, hallucinating or the victim of a horrible crime.
I kept reading wanting more and more information. Several times throughout the book I found myself re-reading paragraphs because I wasn't sure what just happened. After re-reading, I still didn't know. Then by Chapter 20 the story really picked up, I really thought it was going to come together, but it never did. The book ended before any sort of conclusion for the story or the character.
I'm open to different styles of writing, and realize not all books have a neat happy ending, but I don't think this book reached its potential of being a real pageturner that leaves the reader satisfied.