This book was a mish-mash of a story told on different levels, yet you never knew which level you were on. I kept reading to the end to try and find out what was so "thrilling" about this story. However, the story simply fell flat on its face and just slithered around. I really expected something else with all the hype about it. A total waste of money as far as I'm concerned, and certainly shan't be buying anything more by this author.
Odd book - I couldn't get into it at all. I really enjoyed 'Before I go to Sleep', (suggestion of what it was similar to) so thought this would be ideal. But I was confused right from the start. I'm ten years older than the narrator and someone gave me a copy of 'How to be a Good Wife' as a joke on my wedding day ten years ago, so I was utterly mystified as to why any contemporary woman would take it as gospel on how a wife should behave. At first I thought the book was written, or at least set, in the 30s or 40s or 50s and had to check the publishing date, just to be sure. It gradually became clear to me that Marta had mental health issues, so I suppose that does explain her fragmented behaviour, but by the time I'd realised this I was already losing patience. I was also confused as to why it was set in a vague Scandinavian country. Is it ever mentioned which one? I only read the first 40 or so pages and then gave up, so never did find out. I cheated and skim read the last few chapters so I have an idea what the story and ending was about, but as far as I 'm concerned, it wasn't the exciting thriller the cover quotes suggest. The writing style is polished and fluent.
My first read on my new Kindle Fire, I was captivated from the outset. This novel is an eerie insight into the mind of a woman who is slowly beginning to remember incidents that her husband would rather she forget....
Review by ireadnovels.wordpress.com I love reading psychological thrillers. How To Be A good wife is certainly a must buy must read. I have never felt so unnerving reading a book before. It is a very clever first novel by Emma Chapman. This author I will follow from now on. Hector gives Marta tablets to calm her and stop her hallucinations. When Marta don't take her tablets her behaviour becomes erratic and she begins to see her husband in a sinister light. As the story developes it raises suspense in who do you believe? Hector or Marta. I highly recommend to fans who like reading psychological thrillers to read How To Be A Good Wife.
Set with stylish circularity between the cool dark depths of the ocean and a sylvan Scandinavian valley; strict boundaries rigidly contain the everyday life of Marta, a middle aged housewife who is sadly besieged by a seething, sullen sense of displacement. Even her name feels second hand.
Sinister Hector, Marta's uxorious, two decades older husband, hovers around her proffering `medication'. He is a horror, a man struggling with lies and disgrace, an apparent control freak.
Marta's disobedience begins with the odd stealthy cigarette, pills secreted away un-taken, lengthy spells of muddled remembering triggered by sights of a strange young girl appearing randomly at differing ages in various guises.
High school teacher Hector has a close friendship with the village Dr, who wolfishly leering over Marta, declares that she is just as he likes them. Could this be important? Who prescribes the endless drugs and why...
A manual for a happy marriage, `How to Be a Good Wife' is pressed upon Marta on her wedding day by Matilda her over bearing mother in law. Later this outdated book has it's own uses and message.
As the family unravels and the worm turns the back story takes over. Who are we to believe? A possible saviour, son Kylan, comes home with wife to be Katya and the over salted pot boils over.
There is an inevitable awkwardness in setting a novel entirely in the first person, especially when the narrator might be seen to be unreliable. Many of the people that she comes across believe this to be the case. However I fell for her completely and found her entirely sympathetic. I would love to meet Emma Chapman and talk to her about this, her first book. Its languid, paced unfurling touched my heart and pulled me down with her to the reality of what is `A Good Wife'.
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.