Title: How to Be a Good Wife
Author: Emma Chapman
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Literary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Marta has been married to Hector as long as she can remember; in fact, she can’t really remember her life before he was in her life. Now that their son is grown and gone, Marta is spending more time thinking about her life. She realizes that it’s strange she has so few memories; what’s more the visions she sees out of the corner of her eye begin to scare her. Marta decides to stop taking the medication that Hector says is necessary, determined to find out once and for all what is really going on around her.
How to Be a Good Wife is a slow-moving read about self-awareness and the importance of the past. Readers shouldn’t expect a thriller out of this psychological novel, but those who appreciate literary works that allow readers to come to their own conclusions will enjoy this complex book.
While psychological thrillers are the hottest genre right now, How to Be a Good Wife isn’t a novel for everyone. While it could arguably be categorized as a thriller, it feels much more like literary fiction. It’s slow moving at times and it can be confusing, jumping back and forth through time as Marta tries to pick up the scattered pieces of her life. While often, this type of writing would bother, in Chapman’s case, I found it very well done. The author did a wonderful job showing the reader the inside of Marta’s head. It’s how she lives every day, and it makes it more understandable how she could have lost such a huge chunk of her life.
If the thought of reading a novel where, often, you have no idea what’s going on bothers you, then How to Be a Good Wife is not for you. This is a vague novel, but it’s incredibly complex and chilling. There are clues about Marta’s past around every corner. What’s more, the idea of living like Marta, with a low-level everyday malice, is frightening. Not knowing can be one of the scariest things in the world, which is why this is such an effective read.
I found How to Be a Good Wife to be a well-written and engaging literary thriller. While I recognize that the novel has a narrower appeal than most psychological thrillers, it’s still a great read for those fans of both literary fiction and psychological thrillers. Chapman has brilliantly brought together these two genres and created a memorable character, not always likeable but very compelling, that readers won’t seen be able to forget.