Not Logged in.
Book Jacket
The Headmaster's Wife
"Part of a grand literary tradition...Deeply felt and utterly absorbing." -...
More about this book
Author Biography

What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

Created: 05/07/15

Replies: 19

Posted May. 07, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1358

Expert

What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

The novel explores the taboo subject of a teacher-student affair. What do you think of the author's handling of this? How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship as it is first presented in the story?


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
antypam

Join Date: 08/14/14

Posts: 15

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I'm not sure there was an author's handling of the teacher-student affair. When you realize the entire affair is a figment of Arthur's mental deterioration, it no longer matters what the school or board did or didn't do in the novel - the narration of the entire event took place from behind Arthur's fragmented reality. And very well done.


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dannod0409

Join Date: 04/28/15

Posts: 4

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I can only say that when an author writes something good enough to make you hate a character (Arthur); then the author has done his job.


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pauj's Gravatar
pauj

Join Date: 04/26/14

Posts: 30

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I agree with antypam...that's how I read it, too. Once you saw the past through Elizabeth's telling, you realized Arthur was retelling his past. It was an unusual telling, and pretty well done.


Paula J
Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
aleksandrae

Join Date: 02/25/14

Posts: 40

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I must admit that I was initially very disturbed by this and especially due to the high school setting. It didn't seem like a standard affair, but more like an obsession on Arthur's part. Yet, I was still quite riveted and kept turning the pages to see where everything was going to lead.


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joycew

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 75

Expert

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I think the way the author wrote this was unique and clever; but he dragged it on too long. I was so disgusted with Arthur that I almost stopped reading and would have if I had just picked the book up on my own. I think it will lose readers before they get to Betsy's voice. It is like "oh goody, another professor falling madly in love with an 18 year old and thinks he is reborn". Who wants to read about that!


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lea Ann

Join Date: 04/20/11

Posts: 99

Expert

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

WOW, It seems so long ago that I read this book that I'll need to review (skim) it to be able to join the conversation in any meaningful way. Plus, it's been a hectic time with my husband having a heart valve replaced, etc., but I did read most of the book while at the hospital with hubby and it certainly helped me to pass the time. As a retired teacher and living in an area where we had an infamous such relationship in one of the elementary schools, this topic is very meaningful to me. I suspect that most teacher/student sexual relationships (and there are far too many) verge on obsession on the part of the teacher. That was certainly the case in this book. Like those who have spoken before me, I was appalled, and at times confused, about this thread in the story. As joycew tells us, I too was tempted to put the book aside, but it was all I had to read at the time, plus I wanted to see how it all ended. It is, IMO, a strange book and I'll be interested to read the opinions of others as we search for answers together.


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 247

Expert

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I think the author handled this situation brilliantly. He got his point across, made the reader feel anger, disgust and wonder at how this headmaster could be such a low character. The author also gave enough clues for the reader to ask, "could this be for real" It is here where we begin to question the reliability of the narrator.


Posted May. 11, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lindah

Join Date: 04/17/14

Posts: 90

Expert

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

The author did an excellent job of making me thoroughly dislike Arthur (my attitude shifted little when I realized this was an imagined obsession). It seemed all too real, a predator taking advantage of a victim. It could be teacher/principal or anyone in authority. I agree it did seem to run long and tended to overshadow the rest of the book but well done.


Posted May. 12, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Retired Reader, NE

Join Date: 09/16/11

Posts: 165

Expert

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I agree with Lee Ann, it is a strange book. I also was tempted to stop reading. I did skip to the last chapter. and then went back to finish the book. The teacher/student relationship was creepy. Once the author revealed it was Arthur's delusion and not reality, it was better. Although I felt all of the characters had a tenuous grip on reality. It made the book interesting, yet confusing.


Posted May. 13, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynneb

Join Date: 08/23/11

Posts: 82

Expert

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

As many have already suggested, not knowing it was a delusion in the first half of the book, made you pretty disgusted with the whole affair. I was thinking it was a rather sorry plot at one point. I kept thinking why was this book entitled The Headmaster's Wife when it is only about the headmaster and his lurid affair with this student. Once I made it to the revelation that Elizabeth WAS Betsy it was an entirely different book and very fascinating. The affair was believable although I kept thinking it was way too easy for Arthur to escape with Betsy and not be detected.


Posted May. 14, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lucyb

Join Date: 03/09/12

Posts: 13

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

About the teacher-student relationship. All I have to say is "shame on him for taking advantage of the student" and shame on her for allowing it to happen". We all have choices and I feel that their choices were unforgivable. We hear of so many teachers today being in relationships that remove them from the educational setting. Teachers should be held to a strict code of morals.


Posted May. 14, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MarieA

Join Date: 10/12/11

Posts: 149

Expert

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

It was a relief to find that the whole"affair" was a reality in Arthur's demented mind.


Posted May. 16, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorisk

Join Date: 10/20/10

Posts: 23

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

The author wrote it well. I was thoroughly disgusted with the whole thing and glad to read it was only Arthur's delusions.


Posted May. 16, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
LauraInME

Join Date: 05/16/15

Posts: 5

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I ate up this part of the book. It was a disaster that I could not look away from. I was at first amused by Arthur's and Betsy's interactions. However, as Arthur's interest turned to obsession, I felt very stressed and worried about Betsy, and actually about Arthur, too, even as disgusted as I was with him. Both of them were risking so much to be together --- why? I did not see that it was worth it for either of them. This part of the book was very emotional reading for me.


Posted May. 16, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ElenaSpagnolie

Join Date: 10/10/11

Posts: 19

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I think that antypam is right. Because the whole affair turned out to be a delusion, there wasn't actually an affair to be handled. While I certainly don't condone teacher-student affairs, I was drawn into the storyline. I wanted to know what was going to happen to both of them. Would they be caught? Was Arthur turning into some delusional stalker? Was Betsy not the timid, country girl we thought she was? And what did the headmaster's wife have to do with any of this? The subject didn't make me want to put the book down. On the contrary, it made me want to know what would happen to the characters (even though I didn't necessarily like them.)


Posted May. 27, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MarieA

Join Date: 10/12/11

Posts: 149

Expert

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

The affair was a figment of Arthur's imagination. How sad is it that one has to concoct a taboo relationship between teacher and student. I think the relationship between Arthur and Betsy was delusional on both their parts.


Posted Jun. 05, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Windsong

Join Date: 05/07/13

Posts: 70

Expert

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I commented on one of the questions in this series that at first I thought I was reading another version of Lolita or another story similar to ones that appear in headlines at least once a month about illicit teacher/ student affairs so I was more curious than disgusted as I read Arthur's version of the affair. I enjoyed the book. It captivated me from its first sentence - so much so that I chose it for a book club discussion I am hosting in July. I do have a question for the other readers in this thread of comments. Was it simply mental illness that forced Arthur to confuse the reality of his courtship to the real Betsy/ Elizabeth with an imaginary Betsy/Elizabeth (with him an adult and her, the Betsy of her youth)? As I said, I did enjoy this book, but after reading it I was not sure if Arthur had had an affair with a student that reminded him of Betsy. I am curious as to how others decided that the affair with the student was only a figment of Arthur's mind.


Posted Jun. 07, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mariannem's Gravatar
mariannem

Join Date: 05/21/15

Posts: 5

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

I was so disgusted with Arthur. I too had a hard time reading this book initially. I was so relieved, yet saddened, that it was Arthur's dementia.


Posted Jun. 07, 2015 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ElenaSpagnolie

Join Date: 10/10/11

Posts: 19

RE: What do you think of the author's handling of the teacher-student affair. How do you feel about Arthur and Betsy's relationship?

To respond to Windsong's question, I think that Elizabeth's narrative is what allowed me to see that there wasn't actually a student/teacher affair and that it was all a part of Arthur's deteriorating mind. Elizabeth has memories of and a perspective on things that Arthur associates with the "affair," which gives some indication.


Reply

Please login to post a response.