Have you ever heard the expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? Of course you have! Well, in the case of How to Be a Good Wife, the first novel by Emma Chapman, I will ask you to apply that same adage to book titles as well. When a good friend slyly slid this book across the table towards me, I was initially turned off by the title, but she quickly assured me that even though my own wedding was about to take place, this book had absolutely nothing to do with proper wifely duties.
How to Be a Good Wife is a work of fiction and despite its title it does not include any useful information on how to achieve marital bliss. However, it does provide an interesting and alluring story that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat until the very last page. It’s a relatively short book, topping out at 260 pages, and it took me about two days to finish – mainly because the mystery of the story had me reading it until 2 am.
It is hard to summarize the story without giving away any spoilers, but I can tell you that I highly recommend giving this a read. The story is part thriller, part psychological introspection. This is told from the point of view of Marta (who is indeed a married woman.) Her character is what I would call an “Unreliable Narrator,” meaning that throughout the story the lines are blurred between what is real and what is illusion to Marta, and to the reader through her. The experience of reading How to Be a Good Wife is similar to reading The Bell Jar (the author herself notes it as one of her inspirations as a writer) in that you the reader are along for the ride of roller coaster experiences that alternate between moments of clarity and hallucination right along with the main character. These moments are experienced with Marta instead of described, so sometimes it is unclear what side of the fence you and Marta are on. When you are experiencing this through the point of view of the main character, it can be hard to distinguish what is real from what is illusion, and the part of I loved the most about this story is that until the very end, it still isn’t entirely clear what experiences and memories were real.
One thing that I will tell you about the story that I wish that I had known myself before reading is that even though Emma Chapman is an author from the United Kingdom, the story takes place in a Scandinavian country, though which one isn’t mentioned directly. I didn’t find that out until I finished the book, and while it didn’t negatively effect my experience, it did answer a few questions I had while reading it. If you are looking for a great story that offers many twists and turns, check out what How to be a Good Wife has to offer!
Melissa Webb calls Denver home. She is a knitter, cat-mom and occasional marathoner. She drinks way too much coffee, but she can quit any time she wants. You can say hi to her on Twitter or check out her latest crafty ideas on her website.