Review: The Headmaster’s Wife

April 15, 2014 boarding schools, book review, loss of loved one, mystery, psychological mystery, trauma 3

Written By:  Thomas Christopher Greene

Published By:  Thomas Dunne Books, February 25, 2014

Length:  288 pages

Source:  Purchased

An immensely talented writer whose work has been described as “incandescent” (Kirkus) and “poetic” (Booklist), Thomas Christopher Greene pens a haunting and deeply affecting portrait of one couple at their best and worst.

Inspired by a personal loss, Greene explores the way that tragedy and time assail one man’s memories of his life and loves. Like his father before him, Arthur Winthrop is the Headmaster of Vermont’s elite Lancaster School. It is the place he feels has given him his life, but is also the site of his undoing as events spiral out of his control. Found wandering naked in Central Park, he begins to tell his story to the police, but his memories collide into one another, and the true nature of things, a narrative of love, of marriage, of family and of a tragedy Arthur does not know how to address emerges. Luminous and atmospheric, bringing to life the tight-knit enclave of a quintessential New England boarding school, the novel is part mystery, part love story and an exploration of the ties of place and family. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, The Headmaster’s Wife stands as a moving elegy to the power of love as an antidote to grief.(Goodreads)

My Thoughts:
I need to thank several bloggers who read this book and raved about it.  I buy many books, but this one I rushed to buy and read because their reviews intrigued me, left me more curious than anything else.  Thanks especially to Jennsbookshelves, Literate Housewife, and Beth Fish Reads

This story of Arthur Winthrop is puzzling from the beginning.  His story causes the reader to gasp and wonder what is real and what is mixed up.  Arthur hales from a line of men who have been the Headmaster at the very prestigious Lancaster School.  His life is mostly rote, run the school, eat his meals with his wife and the staff and students of the school.  He was raised at and attended the school, was a teacher before this position so his life is Lancaster.  The memories begin to converge, and mix, and the reader wonders if Arthur is a reliable voice.  If he is as mixed up in his life, his focus, his undeterred love for a woman not his wife, then Arthur is indeed a man in crisis.  

This is a very difficult book to both review and recommend.  The book is beautifully written, and when complete I still wasn’t sure of some things, but the utter love and sadness I felt was all consuming.  Greene put so much of his own emotions into this book, and it’s seen in every page.  I believe this would make an excellent group read, because it does call for discussion when ended.  Highly recommend. 
You can learn more about the author on his website.

3 Responses to “Review: The Headmaster’s Wife”

  1. Melinda

    Great review! I had the opportunity to get this book. It was on one of the publisher’s book list to choose from and I didn’t pick it.

    I wish I did now…

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