By the author of the highly acclaimed, award-winning debut, The
Pleasing Hour, a riveting portrait of a haunted single mother and her
Unanimously praised for her first novel, The Pleasing Hour, which was
called "splendid . . . powerful . . . [and] so assured it's hard to believe
the book itself is her debut" by The New York Times Book Review, Lily
King has written a thrilling successor. In The English Teacher, King
uses her superb craftsmanship, effortlessly suspenseful pacing, and tenderly
observed insight into marriage, motherhood, and family to expertly limn the life
of an independent single mother and her fifteen-year-old son, who is on a
circuitous path toward a truth she has long concealed from him.
Fifteen years ago Vida Avery arrived alone and pregnant at elite Fayer Academy. She has since become a fixture and one of the best English teachers Fayer has
ever had. By living on campus, on an island off the New England
coast, Vida has cocooned herself and her son, Peter, from the outside world and
from an inside secret. For years she has lived largely through the books she
teaches, but when she accepts the impulsive marriage proposal of ardent widower
Tom Belou, the prescribed life Vida has constructed is swiftly dismantled.
Peter, however, welcomes the changes. Excited to move off campus, eager to have
siblings at last, Peter anticipates a regular life with a "normal" family.
But the Belou children are still grieving, and the memory of their recently dead
mother exerts a powerful hold on the house. As Vida begins teaching her
signature book, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, a nineteenth-century tale of an
ostracized woman and social injustice, its themes begin to echo eerily in her
own life and Peter sees that the mother he perceived as indomitable is
collapsing and it is up to him to help.
The English Teacher is a passionate tale of a mother and son's vital bond
and a provocative look at our notions of intimacy, honesty, loyalty, family, and
the real meaning of home. A triumphant and masterful follow-up to her
award-winning debut, The English Teacher confirms Lily King as one of
the most accomplished and vibrant young voices of today.
Tom is too good to be true, and Vida too unpleasant to care about. Still, King beautifully delineates the grieving children in all their confused steps toward recovery.
Booklist - Deborah Donovan
King writes with subtle clarity, displaying an intuitive understanding of the vulnerable psyches of teenagers, and with pinpoint perception of her characters' inner lives.
Starred Review. A marriage of single parents is more often the stuff of sitcoms than of serious novels, but King uses it to great effect in this intense character study. . . . King renders Vida's seething withholding in a free, direct style that captures everything . . . She's also excellent on the children's reactions to each other as the households come together and then separate, dramatically and perhaps permanently.
School Library Journal - Reba Leiding,
The author expertly weaves together diverse themes: literary allusions and the exhilaration and manipulations of teaching, along with a sympathetic view of teenage insecurities and the tensions of taking on the role of stepmother. All this is delivered in poetic yet streamlined prose. Highly recommended.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Romasha Please Stop Laughing At Me This book in my opinion was quite extraordinary in many ways. It is a true story and in fact the author of the book experienced the many horrifying experiences that she writes about in this book. Written by Jodee Blanco this book gives one a clear... Read More
Lily King studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and
Syracuse University, where she won the Raymond Carver Prize for fiction. A
MacDowell Colony fellow, her stories have appeared in Ploughshares and Glimmer
Train. Her first novel, The Pleasing Hour, was a Book Sense selection, a New
York Times Notable Book, and winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award.
King is the recipient of a 2000 Whiting Writers' Award. She lives with her
family in Maine.
Brilliant and utterly enthralling in its depiction of childhood, love and war, England and class. At its center this is a profoundand profoundly movingexploration of shame, forgiveness and the difficulty of absolution.
'Combining an unerring instinct for telling detail with the broader brushstrokes you need to tackle issues of culture and politics, Patchett creates a remarkably compelling chronicle of a multinational group of the rich and powerful held hostage for months.'
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