How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (October 2013)

how-to-be-a-good-wife-emma-chapmanChapman has written a novel that reminds me of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper.  I suppose it also reminds me of Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones.  It’s quite a good book, I couldn’t put it down.  How To Be a Good Wife is creepy in a slowly oozing sort of way.  It’s not slow, I don’t mean that — it moves along quickly enough.  I just mean it’s scary, but not in the monster jumps out of closet suddenly way.  There is no graphic violence.  There was physical harm in the main character’s past, but it is not described in detail.  The harm is mostly psychological, and it is a harm that is primarily part of the female experience: the roles we play as young women, as wives, as mothers.  The novel is about how hard it can be to be believed, and how quickly our experiences can be trivialized.  There were two junctures in the novel where I thought, “but why aren’t you doing the obvious?!”  But I believe now that the failure of the main character to do some key things to save herself, while not rational, is realistic.  We make choices.  And it’s not always about saving ourselves, when our freedom and vindication and attainment of justice means, for someone else, destruction.  There are many questions that linger after finishing this novel, in the best sense.  I can see this being a great read for book clubs.  Advance Readers Copy provided by BEA.

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About Cheryl McNeil
I am the User Services Librarian at the Orangeburg Library in Orangeburg, NY

3 Responses to How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman (October 2013)

  1. john851 says:

    Thanks for this review, Cheryl. You provide just enough detail to whet this reader’s appetite without spoiling any plot lines. I especially like your description of the book being “creepy in a slowly oozing sort of way.” I will add this to my “to read” list.

  2. john851 says:

    I really liked this book. Your review was “spot on,” Cheryl! I was half way through the book just before I went on vacation. I found the story so scary that I couldn’t bring it with me up to Cape Cod as I was afraid it would spook my trip. I finished reading it the night I came home from the Cape, as I really needed to find out what happened. Thanks again for your review, Cheryl, and for saving the copy for me!

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