Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How To Be a Good Wife: A Novel” as Want to Read:
How To Be a Good Wife: A Novel
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
read excerpt* *Different edition

How To Be a Good Wife: A Novel

3.35 of 5 stars 3.35  ·  rating details  ·  2,134 ratings  ·  575 reviews
In the tradition of Emma Donoghue'sRoom and S.J. Watson’s Before IGo to Sleep,ahaunting literary debut about a woman who begins havingvisions that make her question everything she knows

Marta and Hector have been married for a long time. Through the good and bad; through raising a son and sending him off to life after university. So long, in fact, that Marta finds it diffic
ebook, 288 pages
Published October 15th 2013 by St. Martin's Press (first published January 3rd 2013)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How To Be a Good Wife, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about How To Be a Good Wife

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details

Make your home a place of peace and order.

Your husband belongs in the outside world. The house is your domain, and your responsibility.

Let your husband take care of the correspondence and finances of the household. Make it your job to be pretty and gay.

Hmmmmm I didn't go by any of these rules when I was married...maybe that is why I have an EX-husband -who I like to call- "Those we don't speak of".

 photo 26148a77-00eb-450f-a8a9-12ce8d920b9e_zps80bbd13e.jpg

...Oh yes... now about this book...

This was one of the most frustrating
In an unspecific Scandinavian setting, a woman called Marta is beginning to remember strange things. The book opens with her realising - with some surprise at herself - that she is a smoker. As the story progresses, she starts to be haunted by increasingly strong and bizarre visions of a young girl, who seems to be trying to tell her something. Marta is revealed to have a certain set of beliefs about her life: her parents died in an accident when she was a teenager, and she was found in a state ...more
How to be a good wife by Emma Chapman was and interesting and unsettling read.

I really enjoy books set in Scandinavia and How to be a good wife tells the story of Marta and Hector who have been married for a long time - so long that she finds it difficult to remember her life before him. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife. But when Hector comes home with a secret, their ordered domestic life begins to unravel, and Marta begins to see thi
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

3.5 Stars

Marta and Hector have been married for 25 years. She has always been a good wife, catering to Hector’s needs, taking care of the house and their son. Hector has always been a good husband, making sure the bills are paid and that Marta takes her medicine as prescribed. Once Marta decides to stop swallowing her pills and begins throwing them in the bin instead, strange things begin to happen. A young girl appears to her – variou
Patrice Hoffman
Who says you can't write a book and have one of the most important plot points left unanswered yet still be a satisfying read? Emma Chapman does this (and well) with her debut novel How To Be a Good Wife.

We're inside the mind of a woman who could very well be losing her mind. Marta Bjornstad is smoking, but doesn't remember she's a smoker. Finding items askew that she doesn't remember moving. And she's having strange visions that could be hallucinations.

There are a lot of holes to her past but
Marta has always tried to be a good wife and her memory tells her she was, up until her son left home to live in the city, start a life of his own. In his absence, the façade begins to crack. She begins to see and hear things. She finds a cigarette in her hands, but has no memory of buying the package. In the market, she slips into a fugue state. Two hours have passed when she leaves—without having bought anything.

Clinging to her routine, to the way things should be done, Marta navigates what s
Nicola Mansfield
Well, honestly, I wasn't overly fond of this and I guess I'm going to be in the minority here but so be it. Typically this is just the sort of book that I usually like; the unreliable narrator, the not knowing who is telling the truth. I found the story interesting and didn't have any problem finishing it but I kept waiting for something to happen. The first half of the book, I just kept thinking "would something happen now? please!" and then when it did it was what I had expected but the book d ...more

I always see this word while reading reviews, or blurbs in the cover of hardback books, but have never used it myself. Since I’m usually one of those people who can predict the ending and turns of stories, I’m not easily fazed (maybe only once, while reading Stephen King’s Misery, but I was young and didn’t know any better). I’m glad there’s finally a book where I can use this particular word in my review.


Yes, haunting, chilling, poignant, evocative, stirring, startling, unner
Diane S.
This book captivated me from the very first chapter, the writing was to the point, not flowery in any way. The details described were only those needed to accentuate the plot. Very chilling, psychologically creepy, and in the beginning I was not sure what was going on. I thought one way and than another, I knew something was not right but was never really sure what that something was.

Everything fit together so well, kept me interested throughout and at the end all I could think was that this was
Sandra Yates
Devoured it in one gulp. Emma Chapman resists the obvious and creates a genuine thriller from a largely interior character. Brilliant debut!
I read this book in one sitting, something I haven't done since before my children were born. In the busy season of life that I currently find myself in, there's really only one viable scenario in which reading a book in one sitting is even a possibility for me. It's not vacation—it's the flu. I read this novel in one sweaty, chill-ridden sitting, in the same moist clothes I've been wearing for two days straight: black sweatpants and an over-sized white t-shirt with Mr. T pictured on the back, h ...more
Angela Risner
I really wanted to love this book. I adored Before I Go to Sleep, and this book was compared to that one, so I was excited to read it.

The book follow Marta, who is married to Hector and mother to Kylan. Marta has been medicated for some time for an unnamed mental issue (though one may guess she is bipolar at the very least.) Marta has decided that she doesn't want to take her pills anymore, though she fakes taking them in front of her husband. She begins to question her past, as she can't remem
How To Be A Good Wife will be published in January 2013. Emma Chapman wrote this novel whilst completing her Royal Holloway MA in Creative Writing, incredibly she is only 27 years old. I find this incredible because this debut novel is one of the most accomplished and clever pieces of writing that I've read for a long, long time.

Marta and Hector have been married for many years, they have a grown up son who recently moved to the city. Marta has always tried to be a good wife and took her instruc
Wow. This debut novel is brilliantly psychotic! Marta is a wife, an empty nester, definitely on the verge of some kind of psychological breakdown; but that is just the beginning of this dark, twisted, thriller.

The author (did I mention this is a debut?) does an incredible job of keeping the reader off balance. What's the truth? Can we trust Marta's perspective? Chapman strings us along, throwing clues/mysteries down slowly until the story and the action begin to spin uncontrollably, much like Ma
Annabel Smith
This is a sneaky little book. It starts out as a story that feels familiar - a woman (Marta) questioning her marriage as her son leaves the nest and the dynamic at home changes permanently. Gradually it emerges that Marta has a history of mental health issues that seem to be re-surfacing and another layer is added to the story. Then...BOOM! Part way through the book, a little portal into something absolutely unexpected opens, and the rest of the novel is an exciting psychological thriller that k ...more
readinghearts (Lyn M)
Feb 18, 2014 readinghearts (Lyn M) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like thought provoking reading.
Recommended to readinghearts (Lyn M) by: St. Martin's publishing through Netgalley
Emma Chapman's debut novel "How to be a Good Wife" is a well written, compelling read with many layers, all of which revolve around the main character, Marta. Marta has been married to Hector for a long time. In fact, all of her adult life has been spent catering to him, their marriage, and their son Kylan. Now with Hector becoming distant and Kylan living in the city with his girlfriend, she has a lot of time on her own. But time on her own is not what Marta wants or needs.

As the book unfolds,
Marta has never been completely well but her husband, Hector, has always been there to take care of her. He makes sure she takes her medications. He makes sure she gets her rest. He makes sure she doesn’t smoke. He makes sure she has enough to do to keep her at home. Having been given a copy of “How To Be A Good Wife” as a wedding gift by her mother-in-law, Marta strives to be just that. Then, when their son leaves for university Marta discovers that as attentive as Hector is, he can no longer f ...more
I received this book via netgalley.

Okay this book was a totally different read than I was expecting. Good, mysterious, kind of had you wondering what exactly was going on, but at the same time left you with more questions than answers at the end. I was really going to give this book a 3 but decided that since I found myself intrigued with the story that I would give it a 4 star rating.

You are reading from Marta's p.o.v. within the story. She was or at least attempted to be a good wife to her hu
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

The book is written in the point of view of Marta, a housewife who has been married for a long time to Hector. They have a son, Kylan, who has just moved out of their home a few months back. Marta is having a tough time dealing with the fact that she no longer has anyone to lavish her attention on at home.

Her mother-in-law, Matilda, gave her a book on her wedding day, entitled How to Be a Good Wife a
I received my copy from Pan Macmillan through Nudge.

Marta and Hector have been married for years. For so long, in fact, that Marta doesn’t seem to have any memories of her life before her wedding. For over twenty years Marta’s main focus in life has been her husband, her son and the house they live in. And for all those years she has tried to live her life according to a book her mother in law gave her when she married Hector; a book titled “How to be a Good Wife”.

“Remember, always be bright and
Psychological thriller about a middle-aged married woman, Marta, who is suffering from empty nest syndrome after her only son leaves home. She has been taking anti-depressant drugs for some time and she decides to stop taking them to see what will happen. Maybe her son will come back and help take care of her. Marta begins to suffer hallucinations involving a young girl with blond hair - or are they memories? Is her husband really trying to help her or is he covering something up? And is she rea ...more
Liz Wilkins
Thank you to the author and publisher for the lovely paperback copy.

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 and Hector have been married for a long time – so long that she finds it difficult to remember her life before him.

So I have just this second finished this one and wanted to
Lindsay (Little Reader Library)
‘And there it is again, that strange echoing fear, slipping through the cracks that have formed in the memory.’

This is a haunting debut novel with a mesmerising voice at its heart.

Marta recounts the events in her days to us and we question what is real and true. She has been married to Hector, twenty years her senior, for many years, and their son Kylan is grown-up and lives away from home now. Marta keenly feels his absence.

Marta’s days are structured, she checks the time a lot, she goes to the
3.5 out of 5 stars - Fast-paced and chilling, this is the story of a middle-aged woman discovering memories that make her feel that her whole life is a lie.

Marta Bjornstad has been married to Hector for a very long time, and, feeling the pangs of an empty nest, stops taking the pills that her husband has always provided for her "to help her feel better." As the amnesic effect of the medication wanes, Marta experiences snippets and fragments of people and scenes that both confuse and frighten he
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

How To Be A Good Wife is a disquieting novel by debut novelist Emma Chapman. This subtle psychological thriller is an intriguing tale of half truths and lies, madness and mystery.

Make your home a place of peace and order.

Marta Bjornstad has always striven to be a good wife and mother, following the rules in the manual gifted to her on her wedding day, but now that her son has left home to lead his own life, her days seem long and empty. Her husband Hector, more than twenty years her senior, main
Gemma Nugent
I really liked the idea behind this story, although I'm not sure that it was executed as well as it could have been. But perhaps that is because it was a debut novel. I found myself becoming frustrated with how long it took to get enough information to form an idea about what was going on (i.e., was the little blonde girl Marta or wasn't she). Still - it was creepy and engaging and a good read for all that. One thing I would have liked to see was a little more closure . I appreciate that it is n ...more
I sometimes feel as if it's best to read a book in a vacuum.

Knowing things about the author; their age, if they live locally, whether or not you'd love to raid their wardrobe will inevitably influence the way you feel about their book. I think this definitely happened with How to be a Good Wife. But I'll start at the beginning.

You may have seen a couple of posts ago that I saw Emma Chapman speak at the Perth Writers Festival. I was impressed by her focussed, almost quiet confidence (with the a
How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (Picador) ISBN: 978-1-4472-1618-6

You’re advised to make time to read this wonderful debut novel by Emma Chapman in one sitting. It is an amazing roller coaster ride with few rest stops along the way and an ending that has you gasping for breath.

Marta keeps a clean home and is a good wife following the rules of the book How To Be a Good Wife, her mother-in-law’s wedding present. Her memory doesn’t go back further than the circumstances around meeting and marr
Jo Case
The narrator of this novel - a dissatisfied housewife who doesn't seem to much like her husband - stops taking her medication after her son leaves home. This brings on what at first seem to be hallucinations, dominated by a disturbed and emaciated blonde girl, but eventually seem to be traumatic memories that may provide answers to the gaps in her memories of the past. Or are they?

The writing is accomplished and the plot is fascinating (though it moves quite slowly in the first third of the book
The psyche, the female experience and the struggle for identity are thought provokingly explored in Emma Chapman’s debut novel. “How to be a Good wife” centres around the narrative of Marta, a middle aged woman living in an isolated town, her only child having recently ‘flown the nest’. She has recently stopped taking the pills her husband insists she needs to keep her ‘well’. As a consequence, shadows and memories begin to haunt her. Uncertain and confused about her reality, our unreliable narr ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • The Circle of Thirteen
  • Someone Else's Skin
  • One Great Year
  • Eloise
  • Accidents Happen
  • In the Moors (A Shaman Mystery, #1)
  • The Widows of Braxton County
  • Havisham
  • The Cry
  • The First Rule of Swimming: A Novel
  • Letters From a Murderer: The First Jameson & Argenti Investigation
  • A Fatal Likeness
  • Where They Bury You: A Novel
  • Deadly Diamonds
  • The First Rule of Ten (A Tenzing Norbu Mystery, #1)
  • Mother, Mother
  • Fractured
  • The Storycatcher
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, and she currently lives in Perth, Western Australia. How To Be A Good Wife is Emma's first novel.
More about Emma Chapman...

Share This Book