How to be a Good Wife – Emma Chapman

Picador

Paperback UK

 

“‘I know what my husband would say: that I have too much time on my hands; that I need to keep myself busy. That I need to take my medication. Empty nest syndrome, he tells his friends at the pub, his mother. He’s always said I have a vivid imagination.’

In How To Be a Good Wife, Marta has been married to Hector for longer than she can remember. She has always tried hard to be a good wife.

But now Hector has come home with a secret. And Marta is beginning to imagine – or revisit – a terrifying truth.

– See more at: http://www.picador.com/books/how-to-be-a-good-wife#sthash.1HAD6Tgi.dpuf”

4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Marta, a housewife in her 40’s lives with her older husband Hector. Her beloved son Kylan has moved away from home and she is having difficulty accepting the fact that it will be just her and Hector from now on. Marta and Hector’s relationship had an unusual beginning, with Hector supposedly finding Marta on a doorstep having lost her memory, though the story they tell others is slightly different.

Marta is supposed to take medication, though never explained it appears that these are either anti depressants or anti psychotic drugs as the last time Marta stopped taking them she had ‘episodes’. Unknown to Hector, Marta has again stopped taking the medication. Slowly she begins to see a girl and images, though she isn’t sure if she’s hallucinating or recovering long hidden memories. Whilst all this is going on Hector’s own secret begins to emerge.

This is a gripping debut from Emma Chapman. I read How to be a Good Wife in one day. It is set in an unnamed town in an unnamed Scandinavian country, the hills and fjords surrounding Marta’s village making it seem closed off and adding to the impending sense of claustrophobia the book imparts. Marta hasn’t left the confines of the village for 25 years, under orders from Hector not to do so, for the good of her health. I felt the claustrophobia and mild panic build as the story unfolded, which made it all the more impacting for me.

The outcome of the story is deliberately ambiguous in that Emma Chapman has left it for the reader to decide what has really happened to Marta and Hector. This is a great story device as all the way through the reader is left to make their own decision as to what is being played out. Because of the nature of the story I cannot really say any more about what happens to Marta and Hector, as this would spoil it for the reader.  Be prepared for a chilling, enthralling story that grabs you and won’t let go until you come to your conclusion.

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