Culture Street

Books

How To Be A Good Wife by Emma Chapman

On January 29, 2013

By Sophia Whitfield

Marta and Hector have been married for a long time, but Marta cannot seem to remember how they first met. Their son has now left home and Marta is lost without him. She fills the void he has left by trying to delve back into her past. Small snippets of memories are beginning to come back to her, but she is not sure which memories are real and which her imagination.

In her dreams Marta is haunted by a young girl with flowing blonde hair calling out for help. She knows at a young age that Hector, many years her senior, helped her with her grief after the death of her parents in a car accident.

Marta has been on medication her entire adult life to help her with her erratic behaviour and to lessen the blow of her sad past. But the medication has suppressed her memory and now that her son has grown up and moved out, she is keen to remember.

Her memory startles her, even scares her. They make the life she has lived a lie. Could they be true or is it her mind playing tricks, no longer tamed by medication?

Chapman has set her haunting book in the mountainous regions of Scandinavia adding to the eerie theme. With dark cold drawn out days everything seems horribly bleak.

As Marta struggles with her memory, secretly defying to take her medication, the plot twists and weaves keeping the reader guessing.

The novel takes its name from the title of a book Marta was given as a wedding gift by Hector’s mother, How To Be A Good Wife. She informed Marta that it would teach her everything she needed to know. As Marta goes about her daily chores, mostly consumed with keeping Hector happy, she remembers anecdotes from this book that sparks her into wifely action. The book has guided her throughout her marriage with such gems as:

“Clear away any untidiness. Catering to his comfort will give you an immense sense of personal satisfaction.”

It is reminiscent of Home Economics for Women in the 1950s, a high school textbook for girls allegedly preparing them for married life. A text widely quoted and refuted by feminists.

Chapman uses this early on in her novel to show the strange relationship between Marta and Hector. Almost immediately the reader is aware of an odd imbalance in their relationship.

Chapman has written a perceptive debut. It is a thriller that easily compares to more experienced writers such as Gillian Flynn with her bestselling novel Gone Girl. Her writing is eerily evocative with a talent for setting a chilling scene. Chapman is an exciting new writer. Definitely one to watch.

BUY THE BOOK

You Might Also Like

Books

Phaedra Patrick shares her journey to publication

Phaedra Patrick studied art and marketing and has worked as a stained glass artist, film festival organiser and communications manager. An award-winning short story writer, she now writes full time....

On October 26, 2016

Books

Lullaby by Leila Slimani

By Sophia Whitfield

On February 6, 2018

Books

Dr Tim Hawkes on conversations you must have with your son

Dr Tim Hawkes is the author of several books including BOY OH BOY: HOW TO RAISE AND EDUCATE A SON and the LEARNING LEADERSHIP series. He has taught in England...

On June 30, 2014
 

Books

Kat Chadwick brings to life the humour in this hilarious picture book

Fed up with packing the lunches every morning? We love this new book that takes a look at the hilarious contents of one boy's lunchbox. Kat Chadwick's illustrations bring to...

On February 25, 2015

Books

Tom Rob Smith on the true story behind his latest novel

Tom Rob Smith graduated from Cambridge University in 2001 and lives in London. Born in 1979 to a Swedish mother and an English father, his bestselling novels in the Child...

On February 12, 2014

Books

Maggie O'Farrell to pen book on brushes with death

Maggie O'Farrell has penned her first non-fiction book, which will be published on August 24, 2017.

On March 28, 2017
 
Copyright © 2012 - 2018 Culture Street
Contact: info@culturestreet.com.au