The Headmaster's Wife

The Headmaster's Wife

3.57 (7,920 ratings by Goodreads)

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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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 148 x 210 x 21mm | 334g
  • Corvus
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 1782391711
  • 9781782391715
  • 251,211

Review Text

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. Thomas Christopher Greene knows how to hook a reader and land him Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of EMPIRE FALLS
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Review quote

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's haunting tale tracks the unraveling of a marriage. It starts, eerily, with a naked man's arrest... then twists back in time through love, grief, betrayal, and love again * Good Housekeeping US * 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, bestselling author of RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA I devoured this book. Both psychologically complex and wickedly fast paced -- Julianna Baggott, bestselling author of PURE 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 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. Thomas Christopher Greene knows how to hook a reader and land him -- Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of EMPIRE FALLS
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About Thomas Christopher Greene

Thomas Christopher Greene was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. Tom has worked in a staple factory; as an oyster shucker; as a speechwriter and spokesperson for a presidential campaign; as the director of public affairs for two colleges; and as a professor of writing and literature. In 2006, Tom founded the Vermont College of Fine Arts, a top New England arts college, making him the youngest college president in America at that time.
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Rating details

7,920 ratings
3.57 out of 5 stars
5 15% (1,223)
4 40% (3,147)
3 34% (2,714)
2 8% (664)
1 2% (172)

Our customer reviews

Middle-aged and seemingly staid headmaster Arthur Winthorp is arrested in New York for an inexplicably out of character act, but that appears to the least of his crimes as he also confesses to something much more serious. The police try to get to the bottom of whatâ??s gone on, but not everything is as it appears. This is an incredibly difficult book to write about as it would be so easy to give something away and spoil it for other readers. Thatâ??s not to say that all the pleasure of the book lies in the plot (though it makes a big contribution), as there is much else to like about it. The writing style is simple but elegant â?? there are no words for the sake of them here, every single one counts. The novel is divided into three sections with the first being a first person narration by Arthur. This draws you in and allows you to feel some of what he is feeling, which is not always comfortable. The rest of the book is third person narration which focuses on other characters and shows things from their viewpoint. The book is very good in its portrait of a long marriage and on the separate internal lives than even the closest and longest married husbands and wives have. Its portrayal of how a teenage love can remain with someone many years later is acute and touching. The emotion that most permeates the book is loss, and at times itâ??s so raw that itâ??s almost too much for the reader. This great depth of feeling described demonstrates the sometimes vast chasm between internal emotion and external appearance. I read this book in a single long sitting and felt compelled to do so. The first section makes you want to continue so that you find out what has happened and the end of that section forces you to continue as you have to make sense of what youâ??ve read so far. The emotional complexity of the book makes it even more riveting. When I finally put it down I felt that Iâ??d come to the end of a rollercoaster, and found myself thinking about the characters for some days after Iâ??d finished it. Itâ??s almost impossible to categorise The Headmasterâ??s Wife â?? the plot-driven element is thriller-like, the rest is character study worthy of a literary novel. The blurb used to sell the book compares it to other works, but I donâ??t think it can really be usefully compared to anything as itâ??s very much its own separate genre. I would recommend The Headmasterâ??s Wife to any reader with an interest in great plotting and wonderful characterisation â?? and the time to read it all in one go, as thatâ??s what youâ??ll want to more
by CuteBadger
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 more
by Sarah Farmer-Wright
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