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The English Teacher

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3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  751 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Chosen by the Chicago Tribune and Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Novels of 2005, Lily King's new novel is a story about an independent woman and her fifteen-year-old son, and the 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 teachers Fayer has e ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published December 1st 2007 by Grove Press (first published 2005)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,409)
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Ron Charles
For a former English teacher, picking up a novel called The English Teacher required a leap of faith. There's the risk of running into that egomaniac so widely adored in stories about English teachers, a subgenre that reached its low point with Robin Williams's mawkish performance in "Dead Poets Society." Michelle Pfeiffer was hotter in "Dangerous Minds," but she followed essentially the same lesson plan, with the same test results: one student dead and a nation inspired.

For the millions of resp
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Irene Alonso
This was a quick read but very well written. The author's writing is done with such ease and eloquence you can visualize everything to a tee. I love the references to other books and the overlapping themes of this book. The characters are well done, to the point of me disliking Vida so much it made me wanna shake her. It makes me want to read the other books to more fully understand how the compliment this one so well. I would read another one of her books.
Jennifer
I love Lily King. I am so sorry that there is only one more book by her to read. This novel is a portrait of a traumatized woman, and English teacher and mother, who impulsively reframes her life and can't recognize her own self in it. What I like about King's novels is that things happen in them; this is not a novel about ennui but about pain and love and fear. And Tess of the d'Urbervilles. I don't know that this is a book for teenagers. But this is one of my favorite books ever.
Albert
Title - The English Teacher

Author - Lily King

Source - The Scottsdale Public Library (ebook)

Summary -

Vida Avery is very much in control of her life, as far as appearances go. Yet she is pleasantly surprised when she wakes up every morning that she hasn't killed her son in her sleep. Vida is an English Teacher in Fayer, the school built on the family ancestral grounds that had once been her grandfather's. But change was coming into Vida's life. Change that seemed welcomed by all around her, her s
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Loralee
More than half-way through and I just have to give this up. I feel bad for Vida, I do, it can't have been easy going through what she did. But aside from a trauma which took place for her 16+ years prior (which, at over half-way through STILL hasn't been explicitly stated, just heavily alluded to), I am having a hard time connecting with her. She seems whiny and just all around awful. The son, I hate to say this, is even more annoying. There's very little conflict and it's just...boring.
Cindy
I didn't really like this book.

Even though at the end of the book we learn more about Vida's tragedy, I still had a hard time feeling empathy for her. I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop drinking and stop feeling sorry for herself. Who accepts a marriage proposal on the spur of the moment? Why would you do that without seeming to take into account how that may impact your son? Ugh. Give up the bottle and wake up, woman.
Karen Chandler
Some aspects of this book are wonderful, I think. The two main characters are very interesting. First of all, there's the mother who thinks she's in control of a life that she compartmentalizes to the point of neglecting her son and her own psychological health. She's out of touch with her feelings and needs, owing to a traumatic experience that remains undisclosed until the end (except for hints). Consequently, her actions sometimes result from unconscious impulses she's clueless about. King do ...more
Anne
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dana Brown
I'm a fan. Her characters are so believable and I learn from them. Beautiful book.
Robert Blumenthal
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Euphoria, I have decided to read the earlier novels of Lily King. I found The English Patient to be a very different but still superb read by her. It takes place at a New England prep school, where the lead character is about to be married for the first time even though she has a 15-year-old son. There is great mystery as to who the father is, with her not willing to talk about him at all. The novel is about events of the past preventing one from fully function ...more
Jane
I think Lily King is a wonderful writer; I will read anything she writes.

This book had great writing and wonderful psychological insights. I had a few problems with it, though. (1) The end wrapped up too neatly and nicely. (2) The book had too much going on (effects of early trauma on one's adult life, death of a parent, step-family issues, single parent issues, single child of one parent issues, and more). (3) The main character (Vida) was nearly impossible to like, though the reader quickly re
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Lin
I didn't think I could love this book as much as I did her book, Father of the Rain, but I was wrong. It took courage to download a book with this title having been an English teacher most of my life. Wasn't too surprised that the English teacher turned out to be cold and broken, hiding behind the words of literature and in particular, the words of Tess. What a good parallel Vida and Tess became. The son is the life in this book. He is so likable when his mother is not. I love where the plot wen ...more
Louise
Starts ok and ends strongly.

I absolutely loved Euphoria and so sought something else by King to see if it could be as good. The answer is not quite. An earlier book, The English Teacher starts more jerkily, with the protagonist contemplating cancelling a date when she suddenly receives a proposal instead. Given her initial lukewarm attitude, I was surprised when she says yes and the wedding follows almost immediately. Fortunately, the book improves from here, and by the conclusion I became a fan
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Roberta
Vida Avery lavora come insegnante di inglese (letteratura) in una scuola preparatoria del New England, la Fayer Academy. Arrivata qui quindici anni prima, dal Texas, incinta e sola, una donna dal passato misterioso, Vida ha poi sempre vissuto nel campus insieme al figlio Peter.

Nell'ottobre del 1979 diverse persone vengono prese come ostaggi da militanti iraniani nell'ambasciata statunitense di Teheran. Sullo sfondo di questo avvenimento politico, e del corso su Tess dei d'Ubervilles di Hardy -
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Cball
Should it really matter that I hated the cover, because I did. What is this, an erotic novel by Lily King? um, heck no. But the cover...I'm letting it go.

This is a good read. If you are/were an English Lit major than you will love this novel. King brilliantly weaves 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles' of which I'm eternally grateful for--I read the book as an adult and I felt like I finally got all the hidden meanings. If you haven't read "Tess" then you might not fully appreciate this story.

I really li
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Alesa
Well, I didn't like this book at first, because the viewpoint characters were really negative. And I'd pretty much decided to put it down. Then something clicked, and I spent all day today reading it to the end.

The main character is seriously messed up, making her a very unreliable narrator. But the descriptions are good, and the plot works okay. The plot revolves around an English teacher at a snooty New England private school, and the 15 year old son she has raised as a single mother. She deci
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Shane Malcolm
I liked this book, although I did not love it as much as Father of the Rain, which I read a couple of months ago. Lily King is a great writer. Her characters feel real, if sometimes a bit larger than life; her plots, such as they are (these are character-driven novels) are solid; and she renders emotions vividly, one of the chief things I look for in an author. Something about The English Teacher seemed a bit off, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Lately, I am finding that I want certain no ...more
Nenette
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Danielle
King's The Father of the Rain was one of the most powerful books I've read. The characters and plot were so beautifully written and it was very emotionally charged and moving. I really enjoyed her literary writing style and references and character-driven plots. So, very excited about reading this book.

The opening chapter was wonderful. Rich descriptions of the setting and characters and an interesting plot setup. Vida, an English teacher, and single mother of a teenage son (Peter) is involved
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Julie
I liked this book but I wasn't overly awed by it. It took me a little too long to get attached to the main character, to really care about what she was going through and feel any sort of emotion for her. Once I did the book got a lot better though.

Anyway, the main character is an English teacher, has been for years and years, who has always lived alone with her high-school age son. She accepts a very sudden marriage proposal and as you can imagine her life, and her son's life, changes quite a bi
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Renee
I've read three book by this author over the past couple of months, and this did not disappoint. Well crafted and suspenseful, the English Teacher is about insights into marriage and motherhood and how we can inadvertently arrive at points in our lives without meaning to get there.
The feeling of solitude King creates is palpable as she illustrates seemingly inconsequential acts that both destroy and define family.
Cristi
I read this because I read Euphoria by her and it was quite good. This book was also quite good, despite the slightly irritating main characters. I mean I am assuming Vida wasn't supposed to be well liked, but Peter also irritated me. I mean come on, like really the things that he did and how he reacted to them was just like...uugghh. And Tom, I just can't with him. I got this creepy vibe from him basically the whole book. The stepsiblings were weird, Fran was to mean, Stuart was really strange, ...more
Melanie
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barbara Schultz
Feb 03, 2015 Barbara Schultz rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Barbara by: Nina Feb 2015 Book Club at Betty's
"The English Teacher" was selected for our Feb 2015 Book Club. I try to give unlikeable characters the benefit of the doubt but it was difficult to like Vida Avery ......as an English Teacher she doesn't care if her students like her, she wants them to love literature. Good thing as I do like literature. I did like Peter her son. I do believe it will be an interesting book club discussion.
Laura
A difficult yet worthy journey

As a reader you can see it coming. You can feel the tension and sense the impending implosion. King writes with such emotional restraint that you can't help but grip the book and mentally shout at the protagonist to let it out! For me, the payoff was huge. I heaved a sigh of gratitude as my eyes took in the final words.
Jodi Paloni
Hard stuff. Felt the tension throughout. Loved the ending. Being a teacher, a Tess fan, and having been a single mother who turned to blended family, made this an even more powerful read for me. I could relate on so many levels. How many times did I want to get in a car and drive to a brand new place and a fresh start and finally did. Again, a great ending!
Bernice
Surprising and emotionally engaging Story

This is a story about a woman, Vida, who has closed herself to the world. A world that includes her son Peter. She uses the world of literature to both express her pain and as a buffer between her and the real world. The story is written from her and Peter's point of view. I cared, first about Peter and then about Vida. The story touched my heart. Good, strong read.
Nancyp
I've been reading a lot of young adult novels, so it was a pleasure to listen to a complicated story. Which led the book to be choppy. Also some of that may be due to the reader or editor. I could hear her breathing between chapters and in one chapter change there was no break.

Read this after Euphoria and I'm reading one other by King. Short reads
Jackie
Very depressing. The main character, Vida Avery, is unhappy & toxic. She marries a man for what reason is difficult to understand. She treats everyone around her badly. The reason for her unhappiness is revealed but I just felt like saying..."Get over it"
Laura
Why was this book set in 1980? The only thing I could think was that it gave Ms. King the ability to count off the days of the marriage (which took place on the same day the Iranian Hostage Crisis started), and the ability to bemoan the addition of technology to schools. It also means that modern communication tools (e-mail, cell phones) can be ignored. Other than that, this could have been set today.

It still would have been a modern update of Tess of the D'Ubervilles, and some of the parallels
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Lily King grew up in Massachusetts and received her B.A. in English Literature from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She has taught English and Creative Writing at several universities and high schools in this country and abroad. Lily's new novel, Euphoria, was released in June 2014. It has drawn significant acclaim so far, bei ...more
More about Lily King...
Euphoria Father of the Rain The Pleasing Hour Euforie Euphoria: Roman

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“It came to him that he didn't like holidays. . . . They bore down on you. Each one always ended up feeling like an exam . . .” 9 likes
“-Can we have one day when we don't have to talk about the meaning of life?
-I don't think we ever talk about anything else.”
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