screenshot149 I read Emma Chapman’s debut novel, How To Be A Good Wife, in one day. It is that much of a page turner, and the first book of 2014 that I am telling friends they simply must read.

From the publisher’s summary: 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 difficult to remember her life before Hector. He has always taken care of her, and she has always done everything she can to be a good wife—as advised by a dog-eared manual given to her by Hector’s aloof mother on their wedding day.

But now, something is changing. Small things seem off. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye, elapsed moments that she can’t recall. Visions of a blonde girl in the darkness that only Marta can see. Perhaps she is starting to remember—or perhaps her mind is playing tricks on her. As Marta’s visions persist and her reality grows more disjointed, it’s unclear if the danger lies in the world around her, or in Marta herself. The girl is growing more real every day, and she wants something.

There were times that I did not like Marta. She seems clingy and whiny and wants everything to stay the same. But even that annoyance wasn’t enough to stop me from wanting to know more about the source of Marta’s visions.  Is she mentally ill, or is she remembering?

Marta doesn’t know what to believe. She knows what she sees, but her husband and son insist that if she just takes her medicine, all will be fine. Something in Marta’s gut tells her that isn’t so.  But can she get anyone to listen to her?

How To Be A Good Wife walks that fine line between what could be a mental illness versus believing that everything you know is wrong, but no one will believe you.  How do you know who or what to trust, if you aren’t completely certain you can trust your own mind?

Chapman avoids the ending that would make this a typical psychological thriller.   Instead, she gives us something a lot more satisfying.  As readers, we may not be sure it is the right thing, but we understand Marta a bit more, and the ending makes sense.

If you like Gillian Flynn, books that make you wonder what is real and what isn’t, or a good psychological read, put this one on your To-Read list.