Recently on Twitter, there has been much talk of How to be a Good Wife, the debut novel of author Emma Chapman. Given that most people I follow are in the book industry, whether writers, publicists or fellow book-lovers, Twitter has quickly become something of a book hub, where I learn about the latest releases that everyone’s talking about. Last week it was the aforementioned debut and so, when heading to deepest, darkest Sussex after a particularly hectic week at work, I decided to move on from the novel I had been struggling with for over a week, in favour of what I hoped would be a more gripping read.
From the off-set, How to be a Good Wife was something of an uncomfortable read; made all the more so given the recent bleak weather that has descended across England. The solitude of Sussex after the bright lights of London, coupled with a loud blustery storm certainly made it atmospheric.
Telling the story of Marta, wife to Hector and mother to Kylan, How to be a Good Wife explores themes of memories, secrets and betrayals against the backdrop of silent Scandinavia. Marta has stopped taking her prescribed medication, against the wishes of both her son and her husband, and the reader witnesses what at first appears to be the onset of a mental breakdown.
But as Marta’s behaviour becomes more and more erratic, shards of forgotten memories begin slotting together, resulting in a climatic twist to Chapman’s debut. Both menacing and sinister, How to be a Good Wife is an unsettling read to be devoured in one sitting.