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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 has been married to Hector for longer than she can remember. She has always tried hard to be a good wife.
But now Hector has come home with a secret. And Marta is beginning to imagine - or revisit - a terrifying truth . . .
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What Reviewers Are Saying
`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 `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 `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 `An impressive debut' Sun-Herald, Sydney `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 `So tense. Brilliantly written and utterly gripping. I loved it.' Hannah Richell, author of Secrets of the Tides `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 `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 `A powerful, original and haunting debut... hard to put down and impossible to forget.'Daily Examiner, Australia `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 `Chapman mines this vein of claustrophobic creepiness to great effect'. The Lady `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 `Mesmerising. A beautiful and disturbing novel. I loved it'. Susanna Jones, author of When Nights Were Cold `Chilling and original with plenty of tense moments to keep the pages turning'. Simple Things `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. `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 `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 `Fans of Before I Go To Sleep will love this chilling debut from Emma Chapman'. Grazia `A compelling, twisty tale of deception and distrust. Beautifully written, and very clever indeed'. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner `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 `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 `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 `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 `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 `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 `A tense, unnerving debut, told with precision and control. As unsettling as any ghost story' Simon Lelic, author of Rupture and The Child Who `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 `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 `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