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Reader Reviewed
How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman

How To Be a Good Wife

Family Drama   Thriller / Suspense   Debuts of the Month   Literary Fiction   eBook Favourites   
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Selected by Sarah Broadhurst

May 2014 Debut of the Month.

This is a tough little book. What starts out as a nice story about a sweet woman trying to please her husband and suffering a little from empty nest syndrome in an isolated area in Sweden, turns into a menacing tale of desperation and, in my mind, horror. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a horror story, it is just what the poor girl has gone through that really distressed me. It is creepy and very good indeed. For years her life has been ‘normal’ but now she decides to stop taking the medication. Her memories start flashing before her, and things become very dark.

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

If you like Emma Chapman you might also like to read books by Marjorie Celona.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

Reader Reviews

  • Linda Hill - 'an outstanding and spellbinding debut novel...I'd defy any reader not totally absorbed by this novel and desperate to read on.' Read full review >
  • Maureen Gourlay - 'Who is the little girl Marta “sees” - why does she see her, what is real and what isn't? Who is telling the truth? An intriguing little book that keeps you wondering.' Read full review >
  • Barbara Goldie - 'A chilling, disturbing, compelling read...It is multi layered, full of twists and intrigue, very thought provoking.' Read full review >
  • Phylippa Smithson - 'I love a book that brings out my absolute caring and hope for a character.  Emma Chapman achieves this in oh such an engaging fashion.'Read full review >
  • Nikki Whitmore - 'A novel that is as stark as its Scandinavian setting...A disquieting read that lingered with me long after I’d finished the last page.' Read full review >
  • Emma Barton - 'This is a gripping novel about a damaged woman trying to come to terms with her past...I was taken through a range of emotions as her life unfolds and was utterly hooked throughout.' Read full review >
  • Clair Chaytors - 'A chilling book and a perfect setting.' Read full review >
  • Clare Turner - 'I can’t say I liked this book – but I was gripped and impressed by it and find it has stayed with me...I await Emma Chapman’s next book with eagerness.' Read full review >
  • Claire Hill - 'An intense and chilling debut from author Emma Chapman; a fascinating and multi-media layered tale of suspense with darkly menacing undertones.' Read full review >
  • Cathy Small - 'A gripping story that, as it unfolds, leaves you wanting to understand more about the main character. I read the book in one sitting as I couldn't put it down.' Read full review >
  • Bethan Davies - 'This book has an excellent storyline which keeps you engrossed to the end. Very cleverly written.' Read full review >
  • Sue Muir - 'This is a disturbing book and in my opinion the conclusion was a little disappointing.' Read full review >
  • Nicola Foster - 'a chilling, disquieting tale about a damaged marriage and the lies inherent in close relationships...I’d recommend this engaging debut novel to fans of Elizabeth Haynes or S.J. Watson.' Read full review >
  • Stephanie Harding - 'Both haunting and moving, a very good read.' Read full review >
  • Margaret Quirke - 'An extraordinary read, hard to put down, twists and turns, psychological thriller. Disturbing but fascinating. A genre I would not normally read but found this one a real page turner.' Read full review >
  • Linda McFall - 'I cannot say this was a boring novel as it was far from that, in fact it is an extremely erudite début from an obviously talented young lady. However it was just not for me.' Read full review >


How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman

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 ...


'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 '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 '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

'A tense, unnerving debut, told with precision and control. As unsettling as any ghost story'
Simon Lelic, author of Rupture and The Child Who

'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

'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

'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

'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

'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

'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

'A compelling, twisty tale of deception and distrust. Beautifully written, and very clever indeed'. Elizabeth Haynes, author of Into the Darkest Corner

'Fans of Before I Go To Sleep will love this chilling debut from Emma Chapman'. Grazia

'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

'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

About the Author

Emma Chapman

Emma Chapman was born in 1985 and grew up in Manchester. She studied English Literature at Edinburgh University, followed by a Masters in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. After university, she travelled in Scandinavia, which inspired the setting for How To Be a Good Wife. This is her first novel.

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Book Info

Publication date

24th April 2014


Emma Chapman

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Picador an imprint of Pan Macmillan


288 pages


Family Drama
Thriller / Suspense
Debuts of the Month
Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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