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.
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.
THAT SHE HAD NOT KILLED HIM IN HER SLEEP WAS STILL THE GREAT RELIEF of every morning.
Not that she actually believed he was dead when he slept in on a Saturday. It was merely a leftover ritual, the weak ghost of an old fear from years ago when she awoke and waited, barely breathing, as close to prayer as she had ever got in her life, for a single sound of him: a little sigh, or the scrape of his feetie pajamas across the floor. He'd scuffle into her room still warm and puffy and half asleep, and the piercing relief of him collided with the horror of possessing such a fear and the dread of its return the next morning.
Now here he was at quarter of eleven, finally, his boots whacking the stairs, missing steps, his shirt unbuttoned but with an undershirt beneath (she didn't know what grew on his chest now and didn't want to). He shook out half a box of cereal and ate it in a few loud smacks at the other end of the table. Still, what sweetness ...
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.
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