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Review: How To Be A Good Wife by Emma Chapman

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.

Chapman’s debut, How To Be A Good Wife, was one of those books that grabs you from the beginning and leaves you constantly thinking and guessing to decipher its’ spinning and unpredictable plot. In this well written, psychological thriller, her protagonist brilliantly sends the reader on a psychological roller coaster that blurs the distinction between reality and fiction and leaves you filled with unanswered questions and endless emotions.

You know a book is good when you feel something. No matter what that emotion is, if the author can draw something strong out of you, the story is worth reading. The way Chapman wrote this book seemed so simple but was so complex. The plot was so tightly bound together that not only do you want to keep reading but you just can’t stop because there are certain aspects of this book that demand answers to questions that keep lingering throughout your mind. The story I feel centered around three major things: Marta and her husband Hector, her son leaving, and dealing with “her” life. 

I feel the way she wrote her characters were amazing. They were defined and you feel as the book progresses you shift in the way you perceive them as the plot unravels. The heart of the book is definitely the character Marta. Here is an introduction to her: She married young to an older man, Hector. His overbearing mother in law gave her a book on “How To Be a Good Wife but in her mind no one could be as good as her.  According to her husband, he saved her life but has been giving her pills since then. He felt that it has helped her. In the process, he has been giving her information on “her life” by restricting and controlling her environment until one day she decides to stop taking those pills and life was never the same. 

As you get deep in the story, you really feel the depth of despair of that character. These characters leave your emotions spinning because as you read, you will see that you won’t know what to think. It’s one of those books that leave you torn in deciding what to believe. Now, there are some things that I wish could've been explained but that vagueness I think created more suspense and intensity to reading the story. All I am going to say about the ending is that you are not expecting it to happen. Me personally, I anticipated a different ending but how you feel about it will be interpretative based on how you feel once you finish the book. 

I would definitely add this to your to read list. I think this book will be one that people will talk about for a long time.

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles

Book Information
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 10/15/2013
Pages: 288

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