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The Headmaster's Wife Hardcover – February 25, 2014
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“A tightly woven, atmospheric thriller about a New England academic whose life goes off the rails.” ―People
“Part of a grand literary tradition… But literary overtones notwithstanding, Greene's plot has the tight, relentless pacing of a fine detective novel… Deeply felt… and utterly absorbing.” ―Washington Post
“The Headmaster's Wife had me hooked from page one… [it] kept me compulsively turning pages, attempting (and failing) to guess what would happen next… The Headmaster's Wife explores how we create various versions of ourselves based on situations, needs, and instincts. Sometimes, shedding a figurative skin and inhabiting a new one is the only way to move forward in a world where so much is outside of our control. While that's something I hope most readers relate to in theory more than experience, this wise, tender, and gracefully executed literary thriller will no doubt bewitch you too.” ―Redbook
“Thomas Christopher Greene's haunting tale tracks the unraveling of a marriage. It starts, eerily, with a naked man's arrest in New York City's Central Park, then twists back in time through love, grief, betrayal, and love again.” ―Good Housekeeping
“A layered story of love, unbearable loss and grief.” ―Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“[Greene's] prose flow[s] like a thawed stream… Well-crafted.” ―Providence Journal
“Greene's deft and nimble hand make the story itself a guiltless pleasure to read.” ―Denver Post
“What seems to be a deceptively simple story about the headmaster of a New England boarding school and his wife, facing late middle age and growing apart over a difference of opinion about their teenage son, morphed into a haunting, mysterious page-turner… A meditation on longing in all of life's stages, a literary mystery, and a novel with much for book clubs to untangle.” ―Concord Monitor
“Greene's genre-bending novel of madness and despair evokes both the predatory lasciviousness of Nabokov's classic, Lolita, and the anxious ambiguity of Gillian Flynn's contemporary thriller, Gone Girl (2012).” ―Booklist
“Nothing is what it appears in this brilliant story of a life gone awry... The author's true intentions make this tale even more remarkable, for the book is, at its core, a trenchant examination of one family's terrible loss and how the aftermath of tragedy can make or break a person's soul.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Greene has created a brilliant, harrowing novel depicting the spectacular unraveling of a once distinguished and proudly successful man. He has also conceived one of the most convincingly drawn unreliable narrators that readers may ever meet, a character recalling the creations of Edgar Allan Poe… This is a riveting psychological novel about loss and the terrible mistakes and compromises one can make in love and marriage. Essential for fans of literary fiction.” ―Library Journal, starred review
“A moving testament to the vicissitudes of love and loss, regret and hope.” ―Kirkus
“A truly remarkable novel, I read the second half of The Headmaster's Wife with my mouth open, my jaw having dropped at the end of the first half. Thomas Christopher Greene knows how to hook a reader and land him.” ―Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Empire Falls
“An accomplished and artful storyteller, Greene has surprises in store as he unspools a plot that becomes as poignant as it is unpredictable.” ―Wally Lamb, New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed
“Incredibly beautiful and compulsively readable, The Headmaster's Wife will keep you mesmerized into the wee hours. A master storyteller, Greene's biggest achievement is proving that the most complex mystery of all is how and why we love.” ―Kimberly McCreight, New York Times bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia
“I devoured this book. It has all the hooks – a mystery, a marriage, an investigation, a loss, a close-up of a society I'm not privy to – and yet, at its heart, there are unexpected love stories embedded within. Thomas Christopher Greene is a wonderfully accomplished novelist, and The Headmaster's Wife is both psychologically complex and wickedly fast-paced.” ―Julianna Baggott, New York Times bestselling author of Pure
“Greene has a carefully-calibrated story to tell in this side-winding novel, and he tells it with consummate skill.” ―Open Letters Monthly
“A mesmerizing tale… of tragedy, family and a tight-knit society built on secrets.” ―DuJour magazine
“Thomas Christopher Greene explores the effects a tragic loss has on self and family…. A difficult yet gripping read, I found it very hard to put this book down.” ―BookLoons.com
“A beautifully written look into a man's soul and how he copes with an increasingly cold marriage, a life-changing event, and the almost inevitable loss of the small, safe world he's hidden in. A strong contender for my favorite 2014 novel (even this early in the year).” ―bethfishreads.com
“A beautifully written exploration of love, of family, and how the loss of someone so dear to you can send your entire world, your very being, into a downward, out of control, spiral… This novel will, without a doubt, top my list of favorites of 2014. It will leave you speechless, stunned by how expertly this author has captured tragedy and the loss. Greene knows loss, it serves as his inspiration for writing this novel. To learn more, please check out the video embedded below.” ―jennsbookshelves.com
“What is left to know (without giving anything away) is that Greene uses memory in a way so quiet and subtle it feels like walking on quicksand. The truth is somewhere but who has it? Mystery and suspense can be abused in the wrong hands but Greene plays with the psychology behind the story so deftly there is no feeling of suspending belief or being toyed with, instead, there is love, tenderness, and the sad truth of what the mind does to ensure survival. The Headmaster's Wife is a painfully beautiful look at where our decisions and expectations take us. And, more importantly… where they leave us.” ―gilmoreguidetobooks.com
“While the story is totally different, there is a likeness to A Beautiful Mind that teases at your senses… The twists are amazing and the ending is unexpected. If you enjoy novels that make you think and those that take you into the unimaginable, you will find this to be a terrific find. There is mystery and romance, as well as friendships and hidden agendas.
This would be a terrific book for both a reading group and a book club, with a wealth of information to utilize to keep the discussion lively” ―seattlepi.com
“Smart, moving, funny, deeply felt and told, The Headmaster's Wife is one of the best books I've read so far this year.” ―ChaoticCompendiums.com
“This is a well-written book for grown-ups. Fast (be prepared to stay up all night reading it, you won't want to stop) and cinematic in its scene set-ups and intensity.” ―HereWeAreGoing.wordpress.com
Top Customer Reviews
When I began reading the headmaster's story I was concerned by what he was doing and worried where the story was headed. By the end of his narrative I was shocked by the events that had unfolded. While reading 'Expectations' and then 'After' the reader gains insight about events described in part one and the story becomes a very different one.
I don't want to say too much or give anything away that you may not already know from the book jacket or promotional blurb. I do want to say that I was completely engrossed by this book and read it from start to finish in less than 24 hours. The author really nails relationships and emotions and expertly dissects grief (unfortunately this comes from experience).
I think this would make an excellent book club book, I highly recommend it.
This book is very readable, and I can't even begin to state how much I admired this prose that was both spare and elegant, and complex and beautiful. Not a word is wasted nor a phrase misplaced in a tale that is so achingly real, the pages seem at times to exude an overpowering sadness that is incredibly moving. This portrayal of two broken lives will stay with me for quite a while. I was able to see bits of myself in The Headmaster's Wife, and even though I am totally unfamiliar with this setting, I felt like I was there as the author turns such a perceptive eye to tragic circumstances, treating them with a compassionate heart without ever losing his dispassionate perspective.
The Headmaster's Wife is an enthusiastic recommend for any fan of literary fiction looking for an authentic and unique look at love and loss. I can't wait to explore some of this author's other works!
I never win anything. The last time I won something was circa 1982 and it was a bag of cheezeez. So I was delighted to win one of the ARCs provided by St. Martin’s Press for the upcoming release of The Headmaster’s Wife; a way better prize than a bag of faux-cheese snacks, and, although it was a quick read, way more satisfying.
At its heart, The Headmaster’s Wife is a book about grief. Grief for one’s lost youth, grief for lost love and love lost, and grief over a tragedy that cannot be fully comprehended by the characters. Greene excels at getting into his character’s heads to fully examine their thoughts and motivations, resulting in fully fleshed-out, believable people. At times the tone reminded me of Tim O’Brien’s In the Lake of the Woods (and I mean this as a compliment; it’s one of my favourite books); it has similar sturdy but expressive prose and a haunting air of mystery and foreboding as a marriage flails on its last legs before you. The first half of the book is from the headmaster, Arthur Winthrop’s point of view. After being arrested for taking a naked, winter stroll in Central Park, he starts to tell his seemingly straight-forward tale of his life with his wife, Elizabeth, how they have grown apart, how she frets for their son who is serving overseas, and how he has fallen for one of his teenage students. Arthur’s infatuation with his student is bound to be his downfall and as he becomes increasingly erratic in his behaviour, you just know this isn’t going to end well. But Greene deftly pulls the rug out from under you at the mid-point of the book, slides it right out from under your well-planted feet and all you can do as you plummet towards the ground is think “Huhwah?Read more ›
The book starts out with Arthur Winthrop, Headmaster of The Lancaster School in Vermont, a prestigious boarding school, found wandering naked in Central Park. What was he doing out there? The police are interested in his story and as it unravels it becomes obvious that parts of Arthur's mind are confused. He tells the story of a marriage that has soured over the years, with lost intimacy and increased distance between him and his wife Elizabeth. At the same time, Arthur becomes obsessively enamored of a new transfer student named Betsy Pappas. He is willing to risk all for a relationship with her. As the story of Betsy and Arthur unfurls, I found myself gripping the pages for more. However, something felt amiss to me and as the second half of the story fills in the pieces, I found out why.
Arthur and Elizabeth have a son named Ethan who Arthur had hoped would follow in his family's footsteps and become Headmaster of Lancaster School some day. However, upon graduation, and right after 9/11, Ethan joins the army and goes to Iraq. Arthur is furious and Elizabeth is torn up with fear. Ethan is a good person but is not the son that Arthur had hoped he'd be. Elizabeth has tried to protect him from the world but has to let him go.
I found the second half of the book as interesting as the first half. However, I also found it to be implausible towards the end.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved the subtlety of this book. The intertwining weaving perfectly between ages, and yet never confusing. Beautiful story beautifully written.Published 1 day ago by Suelaine
I did not want this nook to end. So well written and the plot so absorbing. I highly recommend it.Published 1 day ago by Deborah Reed
Unexpected twists keep you reading. If you have a couple of hours this makes a great read. Some passages are thought provoking and philosophical.Published 5 days ago by aon
This book was both captivating and entertaining and a surprise twist of an ending. One the the best books i have read in a while and it still resonates with me. Read morePublished 6 days ago by stella
Thoroughly delightful, engaging with twists and turns. It makes you want to read to the very end. Interesting to hear events from two points of view.Published 8 days ago by Rev. Migliore
Great read. I am sorry that it's over. It had you wondering what would be next the whole time, I couldn't put it down. It's a mystery, love story and drama all in one.Published 1 month ago by Mah1222
This was a fantastic book with a great twist that I didn't see coming. Such an intriguing and poignant story. The author is a terrific writer and I would definitely recommend it.Published 2 months ago by R. K.
I really enjoyed this book. At first I was cringing at the behaviour of the headmaster but it moves forward in an unexpected way. Well worth the read.Published 2 months ago by Corinne Morris