Thursday, 13 June 2013

#50books2013 How to be a Good Wife - Emma Chapman

Marta lives with her husband, Hector. They married in strange circumstances - she was 20 years younger and so ill he had to nurse her back to health. Marta lives her married life following the rules of the book 'How to be a Good Wife' - a wedding gift from her mother-in-law.

Marta remembers practically nothing from her 'previous' life - that is, until she stops taking her medication. All of a sudden her life becomes a disorientating whirl - she has only a tenuous grasp on the here and now as what she believes to be memories - including visions and hallucinations - take a hold on her.

With Marta as narrator we, the readers, experience this roller coaster first hand. If you enjoyed 'Before I Go to Sleep' then you'll recognise a similar storyline - a thriller with a narrator who is just as clueless and confused as the readers.

[MINOR SPOILER ALERT]

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the novel is how Marta's character remains unreliable throughout - there are things about the story that just don't add up and the mystery is never really resolved. Even the ending is somewhat unresolved. The result is an unnerving and, at times, disturbing story which leaves you questioning all the characters of the novel, wondering if what you believe to be true actually is...

I enjoyed the book, and it was certainly a page turner, I finished it in just a few days (no mean feat with a boy clinging to each ankle, although the kindle app on my phone helps!) I have to say though, it didn't always hit the spot for me. Maybe I just didn't empathise quite enough with Marta, or maybe I just wanted a bit more closure, but there was something about the novel that didn't leave me feeling satisfied. On further reflection though that's probably exactly what the author intended, so I guess she achieved her goal!

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