Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $24.99
  • Save: $3.85 (15%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
Only 5 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
The Headmaster's Wife has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Dust jacket has light wear to the edges and corners. Binding tight. Pages clean, crisp and unmarked.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 4 images

The Headmaster's Wife Hardcover – February 25, 2014

3.8 out of 5 stars 494 customer reviews

See all 9 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$3.98 $0.01

$21.14 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 5 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • The Headmaster's Wife
  • +
  • Bittersweet: A Novel
  • +
  • All the Light We Cannot See
Total price: $56.14
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

A man found running naked in Central Park is unusual, even by jaded New York City standards. But when that man turns out to be Arthur Winthrop, respected headmaster of Vermont’s venerable Lancaster private boarding school, the event becomes noteworthy. It morphs into the surreal when Arthur eagerly confesses to police interrogators that he has just murdered one of his students, Betsy Pappas, with whom he had been conducting a torrid, if unrequited, affair. The problem with Arthur’s story, however, is that his victim is very much alive. She no longer goes by the name Betsy Pappas, having relinquished it when she married Arthur soon after their college graduation. Arthur’s unreliable memories of their life together fuel the sordid tale he unveils, though Elizabeth’s recollection of their doomed marriage sheds an equally unflattering light on a relationship defined by jealousy, deception, and regret. 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). --Carol Haggas


“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


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; First Edition edition (February 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250038944
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250038944
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (494 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #142,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Barbarino VINE VOICE on January 30, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This story is divided into three parts; Acrimony, Expectations and After. The headmaster narrates the first part and the other two are narrated in the third person describing events from a different perspective.

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.
Comment 147 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Headmaster's Wife is a beautifully written novel that is packed full of unexpected turns and poignant moments. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I opened this book, but I do know that it delivered much more than its title and premise would indicate. This is a story about marriage, love and grief that reads like a thriller. The pacing is fast and the book is so compelling that you will find it hard to put down as the author meticulously unwinds a story that starts out being fairly predictable but ends up in a place that you would never expect.

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!
Comment 74 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Disclosure: ARC provided by Goodreads First Reads/St. Martin's Press.

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 ›
1 Comment 40 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene is written in a beautiful style that makes the reading of this book compelling. Greene has a way with words that hooks the reader from the first pages. The plot, however, is not as well-considered as I would have liked and I was disappointed by the denouement. It seemed like a deus ex machina, and not at all realistic.

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 ›
3 Comments 49 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

The Headmaster's Wife
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
This item: The Headmaster's Wife

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?