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The Headmaster's Wife [Paperback]

Thomas Christopher Greene
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Kindle Edition 2.29  
Library Binding, Large Print 20.27  
Paperback 8.45  
Paperback, 1 May 2014 9.07  
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Book Description

1 May 2014
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
  • Publisher: Corvus (1 May 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1782391711
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782391715
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,608 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


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 I devoured this book. Both psychologically complex and wickedly fast paced --Julianna Baggott, bestselling author of PURE

About the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Twisting Psychological Tale 20 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
It is perhaps easiest to describe the Headmaster's Wife as a book of two halves. A book that traces the unravelling of a man's mind, the psychological decline of one of those men who does not unravel.

The narrative begins with a shockingly out of character incident; Arthur Winthrop, headmaster of a prosperous American private school is found wandering naked through Central Park. He is arrested by the police, and whilst being interviewed, describes a series of events that lead up to a far more heinous crime.

The second half of the novel unravels the clearly distorted, and unreliable series of events that Winthrop has described in the previous section of the book. It gradually becomes clear just how far his psychological decline has taken him. A not unexpected twist begins to shed new light upon the events described, as we learn that whilst Winthrop's previous admission may not be that straightforward, and while his capable of despicable acts, just how far will his ruthless pursuit of the object of his affections will take him.

A gripping, interesting read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Headmaster's Wife 1 May 2014
The reader meets Arthur Winthrop as he arrives at Central Park West very early on a winter's morning. Arthur is the esteemed Headmaster of Lancaster College, Vermont. Arthur's father, and his father before him were also Headmasters at Lancaster. Arthur strips naked and walks through the snowy park, he is arrested and taken away to be interviewed by the police. During this interview Arthur confesses to a deed far more serious than walking naked in public.

Arthur's story is sad but also a little menacing. He speaks of a student called Betsy Pappas; bright and beautiful and out of bounds to a married teacher who holds a position of power and trust. Yet Arthur is totally obsessed by Betsy, risking his reputation and his marriage to catch a glimpse of her, to steal a night away with her, to try to make her love him. Betsy has become a drug, he is addicted and will let nothing and nobody stand in his way. He is determined that she will be his and his only.

Thomas Christopher Greene tells the story of The Headmaster's Wife in three parts; Acrimony, Expectations and After. Arthur's narrative makes up the first half of the story, with the second part and the ending relayed by different character's points of view. Arthur does not appear to be a terribly reliable narrator, nor does he evoke a great deal of empathy from the reader. However, just a few pages into the alternative narratives will tell the reader so much more about Arthur, and opinion and viewpoint changes dramatically.

This is a very complex story, it is also a little confusing in parts and I found it extremely difficult at times to feel anything at all for any of the characters, with the exception of Russell.

There is no doubt however that Greene is a gifted author. His words are haunting and depict the unravelling of Arthur's mind so well. The Headmaster's Wife is a story of how grief can make life unpredictable.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Will capture your attention 27 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
I liked this as it managed to completely throw me. I did not expect the outcome I thought was heading my way. I started off reading this thinking that oh yes kind of predictable what will happen, but no. The author manages to completely send you in the wrong direction.

The first half of the story is told from Arthur Winthrop's point of view and you want to know how he managed to get himself into a situation where he is walking naked in the snow. I was gripped by the first part of the story. I liked the little snippets of conversation whilst Arthur is at the police station recounting what has led him up to this point and I wanted to know where the story was going. I was also constantly wondering when his wife would come into the picture, as the title makes you think that she has to come into at some point.

Without wanting to give anything away, I am not entirely sure how I felt about the twist. Initially I thought it was good and it made the story make sense, but I feel maybe the ending could have been different. That said it was still a compelling story that I just easily got into and read very quickly.

An intriguing, compelling novel that I think will capture your attention.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling 24 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
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 what’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. That’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 – 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 it’s so raw that it’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 you’ve read so far.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A great story - it was well written and totally compelling.
Published 16 hours ago by Gail Thorburn
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average psychological thriller
Arthur Winthrop is a headmaster who comes from a long line of headmasters. Running the prestigious Lancaster School in Vermont is in his blood. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Marie
4.0 out of 5 stars No ordinary story....
The story opens as Arthur Winthrop, a middle aged headmaster, is found wandering naked in ice and snow on a winter’s morning in New York’s Central Park. Read more
Published 2 months ago by jaffareadstoo
3.0 out of 5 stars The Headmaster's Wife
This is an interesting book, full of contradictions. I found that there weren't really any sympathetic characters, and that the techniques of shifting back and forward in time and... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Seakay
4.0 out of 5 stars The Headmaster's Wife
Having received this book to review I was looking forward to reading it as from the quotes on the back of the cover and the inside it sounded a griping, dark and compelling... Read more
Published 2 months ago by dally33
2.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't really go anywhere
Although it is well written and the prose flows nicely, the characters are weak and the story dull. The shifting viewpoints don't really work either: the first person chapters read... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rachel Sirotinina
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and gripping.
The Headmaster’s Wife is the story of Arthur Winthrop, a middle-aged headmaster at a Boarding School in Vermont and his wife Elizabeth. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ninnytendo
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly compelling!!
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! Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs Sarah Farmer-Wright
3.0 out of 5 stars A compelling start which disappointed in the end
While titled The Headmaster's Wife, this is foremost the story of the headmaster himself; Arthur Winthrop. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Zarina @ Page to Stage reviews
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