Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Review: How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman
Who says you can't write a book and have one of the most important plot points left unanswered yet still be a satisfying read? Emma Chapman does this (and well) with her debut novel How To Be a Good Wife.
We're inside the mind of a woman who could very well be losing her mind. Marta Bjornstad is smoking, but doesn't remember she's a smoker. Finding items askew that she doesn't remember moving. And she's having strange visions that could be hallucinations.
There are a lot of holes to her past but she's determined to figure out who she is, and who she used to be. Slowly Marta's memories start coming to her as she is constantly crossing paths with a blonde woman. She doesn't know who this woman is or if she's merely a figment of her imagination.
Emma Chapman introduces us to a woman who isn't reliable enough for us to take at her word so we depend on the ones interacting with her to give us a little more insight. Her husband, Hector, constantly suggests she either needs to take her pills or hasn't taken her pills. Hector seemingly is feeding her the memories she has of how they met without much evidence besides one newspaper clipping of who she was before. To top it off, she uses a manual aptly named How To Be a Good Wife given by her mother-in-law, as her compass in life. How can we be certain she isn't crazy or that there is something more sinister happening in this home?
There are questions left unanswered that will leave readers wondering what is the truth. For some this won't be enough. They will need closure and that's completely understandable. I for one, could not have been more satisfied with How To Be a Good Wife. Marta has such depth and honesty. At moments I was convinced she's probably more than a little crazy, she'll give me a rational argument that suggests this woman should be taken seriously. The problem is how to take seriously a woman who's been suppressed for more than 25 years?
Ultimately, Emma Chapman's debut novel How To Be a Good Wife is such a exceptional, absorbing read. There's tons of mystery and intrigue that will lead lovers of psychological suspense to devour this in one sitting. I am left questioning what I would do if one day I see moments of my past, once filled with so much light, only to be full of shadows. ****