Arthur Winthrop is a middle-aged headmaster at an elite prep school in Vermont.
When he is arrested for an act that is incredibly out of character, the strait-laced, married headmaster confesses to a much more serious crime.
Arthur reveals that he has had a passionate affair with a scholarship student called Betsy Pappas.
But Betsy is a fickle and precocious teenager. When she switches her attentions to a classmate, Arthur's passion for Betsy turns, by degrees, into something far darker.
Now Arthur must tell the truth about what happened to Betsy.
But can Arthur's version of events be trusted - or is the reality much more complex and unnerving?
The Headmaster's Wife is a dark, sinuous and compelling novel about marriage and obsessive love.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Books
- Publication Date: 01/05/2014
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9781782391715
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Review by SF-W
What a great story - completely absorbing and utterly compelling! Had I not had to go to work everyday, I would have devoured this book in one sitting!It is the story of Arthur Winthrop, headmaster at a prestigious boarding school in Vermont. One day he is found wandering naked throughout the snow in Central Park and is picked up by the police. There, in the police station, the first part of the story starts to unfold - told from Arthur's perspective, he confesses to a dark and murky tale of obsessive and dangerous love for one of the pupils, Betsy Pappas, and their passionate affair. Things start to turn sour when Betsy meets Russell Hurley, the school's budding star basketball player and Arthur feels pushed into a very dastardly deed. Just as you think you know where this story is headed - BAM!!!!! - it takes an almighty twist which leaves you open-mouthed and astonished! The second half of the book is told from the perspective of Arthur's wife, Elizabeth. Here we learn more about Arthur's marriage, family life and their son Ethan. Elizabeth presents a whole new perspective on events which makes the reader reevaluate what we had learned before. I'm not going to say any more about the plot, I don't what to put any spoilers on this review but I will say that this is a story of loss, a story of grief and it's power to completely unravel you. This book also stuck a personal chord for me - having had experience of boarding schools both as a pupil and as a Housemaster's wife, I can tell you that he has depicted that kind of life to a tee. Also having had personal experience of having a close shave with knowing exactly how grief can threaten to unhinge a sound mind, I feel the author conveys the horrific swirling, tumult of emotions associated with grief very skillfully, sensitively and poignantly. His acknowledgements at the end of the book had me in tears and here we come to discover his own experience of a very deep loss.This is the first of Thomas Christopher Greene's books that I have read and, thanks to receiving an advance copy of this book, it definitely won't be that last. Brilliantly and masterfully told - highly recommended.