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Monday, October 7, 2013

HOW TO BE A GOOD WIFE by Emma Chapman Excerpt & Giveaway

Though I don't feature a ton of adult literary fiction on the blog, I do have a lot of it crowding my shelves. I have a particular fondness for stories that push the reader, get inside the reader's head a little. And Emma Chapman's debut, How to be a Good Wife, sounds like it does just that.
The excerpt on Macmillan's site — which I'm sharing with you in part, below  — is full of foreboding and left me feeling anxious in that haunting, suspenseful way of some books. I don't know about you, but when the days get shorter and cooler and Halloween creeps closer, I find myself more likely to reach for a book like this over schlocky horror; I want something that's going to mess with my mind a bit, and not just cheap thrills.

If you like the same, click through to check out an excerpt of How to be a Good Wife and then enter to win one of 2 copies for your own suspenseful Fall reading pile!

I go to the tall wooden cabinet in the hall where I keep my china dolls. Hector has bought me a new one each year since we've been married. Twenty-five dolls for twenty-five years. I keep them away from dust, looking at them only through the glass panes, opening the door as little as possible to keep them preserved. Brunettes, blondes and redheads, each face perfect in its own way. My favourite is a blonde-haired doll, sitting in pride of place in the middle row, her perfect curls and pale grey eyes catching the light. I look for her now and for a moment I am confused by what I see. She is facing the wrong way. I feel my throat tighten. Hector knows not to touch my dolls. I wonder if this is his idea of a joke.
Opening the cabinet, I pull on my white gloves. Lifting her out, I tilt her up and down, watching her eyes flick open and shut. I trace her lips with my fingers, always slightly parted, always smiling.
I hear something on the other side of the front door. Startled, I drop her. Looking over my shoulder, I bend to pick her up, my heart thumping. She has landed on her head, but there is no visible damage. There is a noise at the front door again, and my head rings, as if it was me who took the fall. Slipping her back into the cabinet, I walk quickly through to the kitchen, shutting the door behind me. I slide a knife from the draining board and wait.
The front door creaks open, and then shuts. Steps travel slowly across the hallway. I let my breath escape.
I open my eyes. It's Hector, standing on the other side of the kitchen doorway, watching me.
We watch each other through the thick glass panels: we don't smile. At the bottom, I see his brown leather brogues, the laces tied. In the middle, his corduroy trousers are pressed stiffly, his hands in his pockets. At the top: his calm blue eyes; the steady line of his mouth, slightly curved down at the corners; his greying hair brushed sparsely. He has deep creases in the skin of his cheeks.
He sees: slippers, the bottom of my black everyday trousers. The neat red apron, a pale pink cashmere jumper, the knife glinting by my side. My make-up-less face, no doubt severe in the bright daylight. My hair tied into a neat dull chignon at the back of my head, dark blonde with the beginnings of grey. Before he arrives home, freshen your make-up; put a ribbon in your hair.
I risk a smile: as he smiles back, the lines around his eyes shift. Now that he's here, I feel better, and almost silly that I worked myself up before, thinking someone was breaking in. I turn, slipping the knife under the surface of the water in the sink. Hector opens the door.
'Hi,' he says.
I glance at the kitchen clock. Twelve thirty-five.
'You're home early,' I say.
Hector nods. 'No classes this afternoon,' he says.
I have to look away from him, down into the water. I begin to wash the knife. The soap slips off the gleaming metal as I slide it onto the draining board.
Hector is still standing there, watching me.
'How was your day?' I ask.
'It smells of smoke in here,' he says.
'I burnt some toast.' I keep my hands below the surface of the water. 'Have you been touching my dolls?'
'What do you mean?' His voice is slow, careful.
'My dolls. Someone has been moving them.'
He comes towards me; I stay still. He raises his hand and I feel the warmth of his palm on my forehead, dry and papery.
'Are you feeling all right?' he asks.
'I'm fine,' I say, opening my eyes.
'Not still feeling sick?'
'Have you taken your medication?'
I shake my head.
Hector opens the cupboard above the sink. I hear the rattle of the bottle.
'Open your mouth,' he says.
I let my jaw go slack. The pink pill moves past my eye line, and when I feel it on my tongue, I swallow. He gestures, and I open my mouth again.
He checks. 'Good girl,' he says, putting his hand at the base of my neck. 'I'm going to have a shower.' He turns to leave.
I pick up the knife from the draining board and begin to wash it again.
Without looking up, I listen to him climb the stairs. Once I am sure he is gone, I let my legs go, sinking against the kitchen counter. Cupping a hand to my mouth, I expel the small pill, letting it drop into a gap between the skirting board and the floor. It has been so long now since I remember actually swallowing one.

 - reprinted with permission. View the full excerpt of Chapter One here.

The awesome folks at St. Martin's Press have offered up two ARCs of Emma Chapman's How to be a Good Wife to two lucky winners! Open to the US and CAN. Ends 10/21. Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter. Full Rules & Reg in the Rafflecopter. Good luck!
*Please do not leave any sensitive info or email addresses in the comments! Thanks!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


How To Be A Good Wife by Emma Chapman
Get It | Add It
Contemporary/Suspense, 288 pages
Expected publication: October 15th 2013 by St. Martin's Press
In the tradition of Emma Donoghue's Room and S.J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep, a haunting literary debut about a woman who begins having visions 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 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.

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.


  1. I tend to read suspenseful thrillers rather than all the blood and gore.

  2. This book looks really awesome. I'm a big fan of suspenseful thrillers, yet don't mind horror either. It's funny because I hate gore and stuff like that in movies and TV but in books? Bring it on!! :D

  3. I love all thrillers, but I probably will go towards a suspensful thriller over a horror and gore thriller. I'm extremely excited about "How to be a Good Wife" as it is very intriguing and I am looking forward to look into this new up-and-coming author, Emma Chapman.

  4. Definitely suspense. I especially enjoy the the ones that focus on relationships gone wrong.

  5. Is it okay to mention that GoodReads has a giveaway for this book that closes on October 14th.

    1. Absolutely! More chances to win for everybody. =)

  6. I prefer Suspenseful thrillers. Blood and gore is not really my thing.

  7. How could I NOT want to read it after that excerpt? I definitely prefer suspense. I'm not one for blood and gore, but messing with my head? I'm all for it.

  8. It sounds really creepy and not the type of thing I usually read. I love thriller/suspense films, but for some reason I have read hardly any suspenseful books. I'd like to change that. I'd also like to start reading more literary fiction and less ya, as I'm getting burned out on ya. This book kills two birds with one stone for me! I definitely would go for suspense over blood and gore. I prefer psychological thrillers to straight-up horror. The story-lines are always much more interesting to me.

  9. Wow, this sounds awesome! I want to know why her MIL would give her a marriage manual (rude!) and why she can't remember. I always go for suspense over blood, I prefer the quiet creep out to the obvious one. Sure, the bloody murders and stuff are fun, but nothing can get under your skin better than a slow thriller that makes you second guess your own actions. This reminds me of all of Chevy Stevens' books and I love those. I definitely need to read this!

  10. Thank you again so much, I'm so excited!!!


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