This one is actually quite a short review but then, it’s quite a short book so I think that’s OK! 🙂
“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 . .
How to Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman was definitely an interesting and different novel, in my opinion. It was a difficult subject matter and I fluctuated between being really interested in the story to feeling like it was dragging on a bit to having completely mixed feelings about the ending!
The story is told from the view of Marta, wife of Hector and mother to her grown-up son Kylan, and we really see that Marta seems to have no real identity apart from in these two roles. Her insistence that she stick to the rules of the awful ‘self-help’ guide called ‘How to be a Good Wife’, which she is given by her mother-in-law, demonstrates her eagerness to be a good wife to Hector but also shows her timidness and conformity. She doesn’t seem like she’s really grown up from the quiet, troubled teenager she was when she first met Hector- or so she thinks. The book makes you question the motives of pretty much every character in it, including Marta herself, and I found that quite interesting to read. However I did feel like I was waiting for something to happen for the first half.
There isn’t that much else I can say about this book without giving too much away but, despite some parts feeling a little slow, it did keep me reading on and it had some good twists and turns along the way. I felt like this was impressive considering I didn’t really like any of the characters, including Marta herself (I just found her quite irritating to be honest and she was quite mean to her son’s fiance), and especially not her husband Hector, for obvious reasons!
The comparison on the front to ‘Before I Go To Sleep’ isn’t very accurate, in my opinion- this isn’t really the same kind of pace or style, but I suppose the main narrative is in a similar vein.
I don’t know how I feel about the ending to be honest; it’s probably quite realistic but did surprise me (though others I know who have read it said they saw it coming a mile off!). I also know a lot of life can’t be neatly tied up at the end and so this novel is probably just reflecting that, but I do kind of wish we’d found out more conclusions about certain topics.
This is a pretty short book so worth reading even if you end up disliking it. I’d be interested in hearing other reviews or opinions on this book too as I’m still a little undecided overall!