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I just didn't get it
My review seems to be in contrast to the majority - I just didn't get it. The book is narrated for the first 120 pages or so by the Headteacher who it seems is suffering somewhat from a midlife crisis and has an affair with a student. I found it particularly uncomfortable to read and didn't really enjoy the way the narrative was set out.
Shelly B. (Staten Island, NY)
The Headmaster's Wife
120 pages in it gets GOOD - for a page or so. But from then on I am afraid the story, while moving ahead swiftly, doesn't seem to go anywhere. I left the story at the end feeling like I hadn't really been on a journey anywhere in particular and don't see why the ending was as abrupt as it was.
Overall a disappointing read which makes me sad, as I hate to write a poor review, especially as the author has obviously gone to great lengths to write an engrossing and personal story.
I did not enjoy this book. I gave it 3 stars but I really feel 2 1/2 stars is more how I feel it deserves. The second part, the wife's voice, was better than the husband's voice. I did not connect with him at all.
Claudia K. (Raleigh, NC)
My very, very first review
I must admit that having three children attend prep schools in New England I felt very much at home while reading The Headmaster's Wife. Beyond this connection, my comfort level stopped. What is reality, what is confused memory, and what is what one might wish it had been. Throughout this novel, these questions kept recurring. I suggest reading this book with out trying to determine the answers to the questions until the end and then try to reconstruct what is a troubling and compelling story of love, lose, and confusion. I hope to read more of Thomas Christopher Greene's work.
Audrey C. (Canfield, OH)
The Headmaster's Wife
T. C. Greene's The Headmaster's Wife fulfills every author's dream to write a really good book. Not once in this book was there any predictable section that would make a reader shelve the read and forget about it.
Kathrin C. (Corona, CA)
Less Than Redeeming
Certainly, Greene's novel grips the reader as a vise page after page with with a multitude of experiences. As a reader I could not imagine where the next pages would maneuver me so I read on. Each character, Arthur and Betsy, displays abilities and inabilities for survival. What, indeed, really drives us to act and react as we do?
Toward the end of the book, Arthur and Betsy look out into the winter night. Far below "is the river, timeless and uncaring. It moves to the sea as if they were not there at all." So, too, for us in our day to day or ending phases of life's triumphs, foibles, or confusions, life moves in a timeless, uncaring manner except for those with whom we literally or figuratively hold hands! As we age we ponder to what end will our journey take us? And, Greene answers: Real courage lies in going on living when you know death is an eventuality! The book serves to give us an opportunity to see how someone else overcomes a tragedy.
I really wanted to like this book more than I did - probably based on positive commentary from the likes of Wally Lamb and Richard Russo. But I finished the novel with a slightly sour taste in my mouth. Greene's writing seemed skillful enough and he creates some deft sketches of private school life, but his two main characters, the headmaster and his wife, never reached that redeeming spot of "flawed but likeable." I never emotionally connected with them and it felt as if I was reading distant narratives of a middle-aged couple's intimate thoughts. The story lacked a cohesion to let some of its themes shine through - the trials of aging, the grief of losing a child.
Linda S. (Arlington Heights, IL)
The Headmaster's head trip
This book was a pretty easy, fast read. I'm glad I finished it. When it began I was very inclined to stop reading. I didn't like where the story was headed. I found it repugnant actually. But I sensed there was more to it so I kept on. I'm glad I did as the second half explained the realities of the first half. That being said, I thought the book was a bit unbelievable and shallow. Wrapped up all tidy. It wasn't a horrible book but I don't know how I would recommend it without giving away the first part to convince reader to read last part.
Diane P. (Concord, MA)
Worth the read
In this novel, Thomas Greene has adroitly captured the pitch-perfect tone of pre-1960's and 1990's boarding school life, as well as a trenchant understanding of adolescent impunity, along with adult longing and despair. Greene quickly establishes his cynical protagonist, the Headmaster, Dick Ives, but not until the second half of the novel does the Headmaster's wife, Elisabeth, fully emerge.
Mary M. (Dallas, TX)
Surprisingly, authentic, emotional turmoil over loss is the true focus of this work, but Greene's literary trompe l'oeil is only apparent halfway through the narrative, which is both the brilliance and the difficulty of the novel. The first half is trite, but when Greene reveals the real purpose of the work, the reader forgives him and becomes engrossed in the narrative. If readers are tenacious, they will reap the rewards of Greene's poignant world.
I tried hard to like The Headmaster's Wife but found it to be a nicely written cliche with not much to pull the reader in but rather a book to put down and forget.