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How to Be a Good Wife

How to Be a Good Wife [Kindle Edition]

Emma Chapman
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)

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‘Taut, elegant and pitch-perfect. As soon as you've read it you'll want to talk about it’. Evie Wyld, author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice

‘Compelling, edgy and dark – I read How To Be a Good Wife in one sitting’. Jane Rusbridge, author of Rook and The Devil's Music

‘An impressive debut novel. Here’s hoping there’ll be more from Emma Chapman’ M. J. Hyland, Man Booker prize shortlisted author of Carry Me Down and This is How

‘A tense, unnerving debut, told with precision and control. As unsettling as any ghost story’ Simon Lelic, author of Rupture and The Child Who

‘A compelling debut: tightly plotted, tensely written, and subtle in its explorations of motive. Emma Chapman is very accomplished and a bright hope for the future’. Sir Andrew Motion

‘On the surface the book is a highly competent, creepy little chiller, but beneath, like a silent, bolted and half-dark room, there’s a much bigger, equally disconcerting story about the nature of feminine experience. It’s an accomplished debut from a writer who shows insight and emotional power’. Hilary Mantel, Man Booker Prize winning author of Wolf Hall

‘Claustrophobic, startling and hauntingly beautiful. It’s that amazing, awful kind of book that will stay with you long after you wish it would let you go’ Liza Klaussmann, author of Tigers in Red Weather

‘This taut debut will have you rooting for Marta as she rediscovers who she was before her marriage. A must-read for fans of S.J.Watson’. Easy Living

‘The after-effects of the dark and uncomfortable story linger long after the last page . . . a gripping piece of writing where everything is not quite as it seems’. Psychologies

‘An intensifying mood of menace pervades this mesmerising debut. Is the fragile Marta slipping into paranoia? Or glimpsing agonising insights into a devastating nightmare about herself and her “perfect” marriage…?’ David Hewson, author of The Killing

‘A compelling, twisty tale of deception and distrust. Beautifully written, and very clever indeed’. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner

‘Fans of Before I Go To Sleep will love this chilling debut from Emma Chapman’. Grazia

‘In her first novel, Emma Chapman has managed to walk a delicate, terrifying line. How To Be a Good Wife is at once claustrophobic, startling and hauntingly beautiful. It’s that amazing, awful kind of book that will stay with you long after you wish it would let you go’. Liza Klaussmann, author of Tigers in Red Weather

‘A chilling study of paranoia and doubt… Chapman builds the tension, as Marta’s behaviour becomes more erratic and her seemingly benign husband begins to appear in a sinister light. An unnerving tale, where nothing is as it seems.’ Marie Claire

‘Compelling and complex, this brave novel offers no safety nets… Not just a gripping read but an essential one. It will provoke questions long after the cover is closed’. Ruth Dugdall, author of The Woman Before Me, winner of the CWA debut dagger award.

‘Chilling and original with plenty of tense moments to keep the pages turning'. Simple Things

‘Mesmerising. A beautiful and disturbing novel. I loved it’. Susanna Jones, author of When Nights Were Cold

‘There is something about the pared-down prose, the increasingly ominous isolation and the sense of unease that our narrator feels that saves the story from melodrama – instead the reader, trapped with a sympathetic yet unreliable narrator, begins to align themselves ever more closely to Marta’s position. This is a tremendous book’. The Huffington Post

‘Chapman mines this vein of claustrophobic creepiness to great effect’. The Lady

‘Wonderfully assured… This is a tale of the tricks repression, denial and memory can play on us… Set in an eerie, purposefully undefined part of Scandinavia, this is an unnerving, clever read. It’s one of those novels (think Gone Girl) with a big twist. Recommended for fans of S J Watson, Rosamund Lupton and Zoe Heller’. Viv Groskop, Red

‘A powerful, original and haunting debut… hard to put down and impossible to forget.’Daily Examiner, Australia

‘Something of the hit TV drama The Killing pervades this absorbing and multi-layered debut novel. On one level a chilling tale of suspense among the Norwegian fjords, it offers the reader so much more… You might like to set aside a long winter afternoon for this one. The chances are that one you open it, you’ll want to finish it all in one go.' Daily Mail

‘Chapman’s debut can be read both as a taut thriller and an allegory of the female experience in an unhappy marriage, the waning sense of self felt by the woman who attends to the needs of her family before her own… Marta’s gradual slide into madness is brilliantly convincing. As with Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, the narrator’s psychological torment contrasts disconcertingly with the detached language in which it is described. It makes for a darkly fascinating debut’ Financial Times

‘So tense. Brilliantly written and utterly gripping. I loved it.’ Hannah Richell, author of Secrets of the Tides

‘It is, on the one hand, a taut, economically written and expertly woven thriller – deceptive in its simplicity and chilling in the claustrophobia that builds with each successive page. It is also a deeply unsettling exploration of a fragile mind unravelling, either through the weight of its own paranoid delusions or painful memories too-long suppressed… How To Be a Good Wife is a highly assured, powerful and thought-provoking offering from an author whose best work is surely yet to come. It will stay with you long after you turn the final page.’ Style etc magazine

‘An impressive debut’ Sun-Herald, Sydney

‘Chapman’s carefully constructed plot slowly but expertly builds the tension…Chapman’s writing is so assured it is difficult to believe this is her first novel… How To Be A Good Wife is not just enthralling fiction, but also social commentary, a combination that provokes the reader to reflect on the fraught and complicated nature of human existence. Chapman has written a book as chilling as a Scandinavian fjord in winter, but also as clear, clean and compelling’The Australian

‘Replete with interesting topics and there are twists aplenty. Marta’s voice is compelling and convincing and the prose often Hemingway-esque in style… There’s a narrative bravery to this debut that is rare in contemporary fiction of any genre’ The Big Issue Australia

‘The unnamed Scandinavian setting has all the familiar elements of contemporary northern lights noir, yet its claustrophobic, interior-driven narrative harks back to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s disturbing feminist classic The Yellow Wallpaper, or even Ibsen's A Doll's House… The novel is Chapman's debut, and is eerily well-handled... Chapman shows real empathy for loneliness and the cruelty of ageing… A plausible tale of trauma, a ruthless examination of the many layers of marriage, and a woman's opaque role with it.’ Guardian

Product Description

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. Marta and Hector have been married for a long time – so long that she finds it difficult to remember her life before him. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife. But when Hector comes home with a secret, their ordered domestic life begins to unravel, and Marta begins to see things, or perhaps to remember them. In the shadows there is a blonde girl that only Marta can see. And she wants something . . .

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 924 KB
  • Print Length: 287 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (3 Jan 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #12,749 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

See the How To Be A Good Wife Website here:

Emma Chapman was born in 1985 and grew up in Manchester. She studied English Literature at Edinburgh University, followed by a Masters in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. After university, she traveled in Scandinavia, which inspired the setting of How To Be A Good Wife. She currently lives in Jakarta.

Emma is working on a new book, about a war photographer's experiences during the Vietnam War, and how they impact the rest of his life.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
I bought this book yesterday at work. Lately I haven't been in the habit of finishing books in one sitting, as I used to (probably because I feel guilty about neglecting my own novel), but How to be a Good Wife was impossible to put down. It tells the story of a woman we are introduced to as Marta, whose ordered and placid life begins to unravel when she stops taking the medication given to her by her husband. The reader soon realises that Marta's past may not be as innocuous as it seems. Neither is Hector, her rather sinister husband. I have to say I am deeply impressed at how skilfully the simple narrative handles the complex emotional consequences of post-traumatic shock.

A small cast of characters allows for some excellent characterisation, and the setting is perfect. The empty, echoing beauty of Scandinavia rather brilliantly complements the solitude in which Marta lives, teetering between past and present. Her painful, eerie journey towards a possible truth is quite chillingly evoked through sharp dialogue and stark imagery. Though a fairly short novel, it clings to you after the end; I kept wondering what effect the conclusion would have on the other characters, and couldn't help `writing' more of the story in my head. I don't mean of course that the story required further development. Its ending was such that you didn't want to pull away, to lay it down. You wanted to talk about it, reflect upon it - and that is the mark of a story well-told. That and its legacy - a distinct and unique haunting. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read 30 Sep 2013
This was yet another of my summer fiction reads. I did not know what to expect but was soon drawn into this story of a wife and mother who is the book's narrator. The text is woven with intrigue and it becomes clear to the reader early on that there is something which this woman will not tell us - or perhaps does not know. As the story winds its way to its conclusion, we begin to suspect something which we dare not voice and we wait for the narrator to discover this truth for herself. In my opinion, this was worth a read.

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to be a Good Wife 2 May 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Marta and Hector have been married for many years and have an adult son who lives in the city. Marta is the narrator and within the first few paragraphs the reader realises there is something very wrong in her life.

Hector seems to check up on her more than is normal and is constantly reminding her to take her pills. Marta sees things - but are they things going on in her head or are they hallucinations - or maybe Hector is trying to convince her that she is actually insane.

This is a disturbing book and what is real and what is a figment of Marta's potentially deranged mind is far from clear. Did I enjoy it? I'm really not sure whether I enjoyed it or not. I did find it very unsettling as the author succeeds in blurring the borders of reality and imagination and I found I couldn't trust what I was reading. I found myself constantly reminded of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's `The Yellow Wallpaper' which I have always thought a very frightening read.

Whether or not readers enjoy this book is going to be unpredictable. Some will love it, some will hate it but it would be a good book for book clubs to read and discuss as there will be plenty of different opinions about it.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars 12 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ok but not for me. V
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3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars 11 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Extremely disturbing
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1.0 out of 5 stars Another rip off ---- I am paying a lot of ... 4 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Another rip off ---- I am paying a lot of cash for very little satisfaction -----but not for much longer
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3.0 out of 5 stars The book got better and better 4 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book got better and better, but I had to stick with it in the early part, as the heroine did not gain my sympathy - I'm glad I did, and in the end was rooting for her, but disappointed by the outcome.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good read that gets you thinking 19 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, although some over reviews said they found it slow to get into I didn't have any trouble and finished the book in a couple of days.

The story follows a housewife called Marta, she has stopped taking her prescribed pills and begins to see things and remember things which lead her to believe her past may not be what she has been lead to believe.

The book is definitely a real page turner however I am not sure how I feel about the ending, it wasn't the ending I wanted and I have been analysing the story over and over in my head since which can't be a bad thing.

Would read more by this author
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of promise in this book - but no resulution ...
Plenty of promise in this book - but no resulution, you were left wondering whether the main character imagined everything or if was real
Published 13 days ago by margaret oloughlin
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
A brilliant 1st novel with lots of twists and turns that meant I couldn't put it down.
A real page turner!
Published 2 months ago by Mrs Claire L Tiffney
4.0 out of 5 stars How to be a Good wife
Taut chilled a real edge of your seat psychological thriller. With a surprising ending too . Look forward to reading more by this author
Published 2 months ago by diane buist
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
I enjoyed this story - it took a couple of chapters to get my attention but then was very easy to read
Published 2 months ago by Taggy
5.0 out of 5 stars How to be a good wife
A really good read. Makes you think what happens behind closed doors . Would recommend this book to anyone who likes reading
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read
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. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Janet Emson
4.0 out of 5 stars Slow to start but becomes a real page turner...
I picked this book up as I was a huge fan of 'Before I go to sleep' by SJ Watson, and this had many similar themes as I began to read it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by MD
5.0 out of 5 stars Hits you in the stomach. Powerful writing at its best.
Wonderful writing, beautifully told story. Highly disturbing story line, that made the book un-putdownable. I could not sleep until I finished the book and knew the ending. Read more
Published 3 months ago by ActonDave
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