Thomas Christopher Greene has written three award-winning novels, he is
a new-to-me author. I accepted a pitch for his newest book The Headmaster's Wife (out February 25) after watching a video in which Greene described the inspiration for this novel.
I told the marketing person at St. Martin's that she used emotional blackmail because, seriously, Greene's story of personal loss was incredibly moving. I wish the video were still available, but the link no longer works.
In any case, I took a chance on The Headmaster's Wife and ended up reading it in a single sitting. I was totally taken in by the beauty of Greene's prose and by my curiosity about the main character.
- The opening: Arthur Winthrop, third-generation headmaster at the prestigious Lancaster prep school in Vermont, is found wandering naked through a snowy Central Park. The Manhattan authorities take him into custody, and Arthur begins to tell his story of love, loss, and questionable decisions.
- What we ask ourselves as Arthur talks: Is this a tale of the headmaster's downfall? Or is it the story of a marriage, a family, and the terrible things we are sometimes forced to endure? Is Arthur a despicable man or just someone looking for love and understanding? Can Arthur ever justify his behavior? Can there be redemption?
- What we end up thinking: We eventually learn things that change our perspective, twist our sympathies, alter our understanding, and make us ask new questions. As the novel switches direction, our opinions change, and we start to imagine a different outcome for Arthur.
- Why am I vague and what did I like? I don't want to tell you much because The Headmaster's Wife is a book that should be read blind; the fewer hints, the bigger the impact. I loved Greene's descriptions of a private school and its internal culture and New England campus. I was fascinated with Arthur's role as headmaster, his unique childhood, and his place at Lancaster. Although the novel touches on issues of privilege and class differences, I thought it was more about a family and marriage, love and loss, and the choices we make when we're young.
- Snapshot blurb: 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).
- Extra: For a thoughtful reading group guide (don't look at it until you've finished the book!), visit St. Martin's Press's website. If I ever find a link to the video I mentioned in my introduction, I'll add the link here.
- EDIT: Thanks to the generosity of author Thomas Christopher Greene, I now have the link to the moving video I mentioned earlier. Please do take the time to watch it.
Source: Review (see review policy)
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