Fiction Books On Mental Illness

Looking for books about mental illness?

How To Be A Good Wife is a novel about several forms of mental illness.

If you’ve already read the book, perhaps you can find some other books about mental illness which might interest you.

If you haven’t read it, you can get a taste of it below.


Depending on your interpretation of the novel, Marta is either experiencing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (or Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome), caused by a long-repressed trauma, or she’s suffering from Schizoaffective Disorder.

A deeply unsettling exploration of a fragile mind unravelling, either through the weight of its own paranoid delusions or painful memories too-long suppressed.

– Style ETC magazine

Books about mental illness – Novels

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

This book was a huge influence on How To Be A Good Wife. The protagonist suffers from anxiety and depression: the narrative voice is flat and emotionless, expressing this beautifully.

Similarities: Unreliable narrator, 1st person narrative, explores mental illness

As with Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, the narrator’s psychological torment contrasts disconcertingly with the detached language in which it is described.
– Financial Times


The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
A feminist novella about the limitations of a woman’s role at the turn of the 20th century.
Similarities: Unreliable narrator, 1st person narrative, explores mental illness and marriage/feminism

Its claustrophobic, interior-driven narrative harks back to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s disturbing feminist classic The Yellow Wallpaper.
– The Guardian UK


Tender is the Night by D. H. Lawrence

This book explores what the definition of mental illness, and how co-dependency affects the strength of a relationship.  It is beautifully written.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

It can be argued that Madame Bovary is about a woman suffering from a mental illness.  The language is stunningly evocative, and remains with the reader long after he or she has finished the novel.

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Like The Bell Jar, The Catcher in the Rye is a book about adolescent depression and disappointment in the adult world.  Salinger also employs a 1st person narrative and an unreliable narrator.

What other books is How To Be A Good Wife like?

Read about mental illness in How To Be A Good Wife