The joys of a spellbinding novel: editor Francesca Main on Emma Chapman's How To Be a Good Wife

13 November 2012

I still remember the tingly feeling of anticipation that I felt as I read the first page of the manuscript for Emma Chapman’s incredible debut novel, How To Be a Good Wife. It was there even from the first few lines:

Today, somehow, I am a smoker.

I did not know this about myself. As far as I remember, I have never smoked before.

I was spellbound by the voice and the eerie atmosphere of the setting. And I loved the hint of an unreliable narrator – a hint that grew and grew as I read on, increasingly unnerved but absolutely riveted.  

How To Be a Good Wife is the story of Marta and Hector, who have been married for as long as Marta can remember. In fact, she can no longer recall how they met, or what life was like before Hector was there. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife.  But now Marta is imagining things – or is she remembering them? Her ordered domestic life is starting to unravel, and something very dark is rising to the surface…

This is a novel that invites the reader to decide where their sympathies lie. It asks dangerous questions. And it builds to an astonishing climax that is impossible to forget.

After the joy of acquiring the book and working with Emma on the manuscript, there have been many wonderful moments along the road to publication. Emma wrote a blog post about the exciting things that happened in the run up to publication and how it felt to have her dream of becoming a published writer come true.

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