The Headmaster's Wife
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The Headmaster's Wife

3.63 of 5 stars 3.63  ·  rating details  ·  2,161 ratings  ·  377 reviews
An immensely talented writer whose work has been described as “incandescent” (Kirkus) and “poetic” (Booklist), Thomas Christopher Greene pens a haunting and deeply affecting portrait of one couple at their best and worst.

Inspired by a personal loss, Greene explores the way that tragedy and time assail one man’s memories of his life and loves. Like his father before him, Ar...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books
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I could not put it down! This was a gripping novel about how we deal with grief and what it does to tear us apart. As I got into the first part of the book, I wasn't sure I liked the way it was going, but it was written so well, I could stop reading. Then...smack, about halfway through it takes a turn I was not expecting at all. It ended up being a great read, and offers a lot of food for thought on what might have been if just any one of the circumstances for the main characters had been differ...more
So, up until the last few pages, I was thinking this would be a four star read. It was well-written and well-crafted...up until the end, where, it seems, the author ran out of interest in telling this story and just abruptly closed it. Very odd.
The Headmaster’s Wife Simply Stunning

Like all good stories this has a beginning a middle and an end and have called the three parts; Acrimony, Expectations and After just to help us out. I am sure there will be plenty of people that will try and pigeon hole this book, as literary or psychological thriller but I am adding a new pigeon hole – its bloody good.

Arthur Winthrop is a middle aged headmaster of an elite school in Vermont who is found running naked through New York’s Central Park on a co...more
This story is divided into three parts; Acrimony, Expectations and After. The headmaster narrates the first part and the other two are narrated in the third person describing events from a different perspective.

When I began reading the headmaster's story I was concerned by what he was doing and worried where the story was headed. By the end of his narrative I was shocked by the events that had unfolded. While reading 'Expectations' and then 'After' the reader gains insight about events describe...more
The Headmaster's Wife is about love, class, family, and expectations, but it is ultimately a story about how people grieve. A novel in three parts, the first part is told from the point of view of Arthur Winthrop, headmaster of an elite prep school in Vermont called Lancaster. The second part of the story is told from the point of view of his wife, Elizabeth, and she presents a slightly different version of events for us to consider. The third and final part is the denouement, and it manages to...more
Bonnie Brody
The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene is written in a beautiful style that makes the reading of this book compelling. Greene has a way with words that hooks the reader from the first pages. The plot, however, is not as well-considered as I would have liked and I was disappointed by the denouement. It seemed like a deus ex machina, and not at all realistic.

The book starts out with Arthur Winthrop, Headmaster of The Lancaster School in Vermont, a prestigious boarding school, found wan...more
This book has a lot of shallow things going for it: attractive cover, interesting sounding premise (hello it's set at a boarding school in Vermont), good author blurbs, double spaced text on smallish pages to make you think you're a really good and fast reader.... but then it falls flat in all the important ways. I thought it was pretty obvious from the start that Arthur is an unreliable narrator, and there's just nothing subtle in the story. I didn't care about any of the characters-- not in th...more
Mardee Dowdy
Excellent! Worthy tale and so well told. I love Mr. Greene's writing and will look for his previous books now. This would make a great movie!
The question above this box asks, "What did you think?" Hmmmm. This book rendered me unable to think. I can't figure out why. I don't have the skills to step back from the story and analyze it objectively, to understand how the author put the pieces together so skillfully. I don't know why it works so well, but it is a story like no other story I have ever read (and I've read a lot of stories).

I believe the reader is drawn in by the oddity of the opening scene, and pulled along through the story...more
The Headmaster's Wife begins as what appears to be a rather conventional tale of a headmaster's mid-life crisis involving an affair with a student and the story of his troubled marriage. It was so conventional, in fact, that I wondered why I was continuing to read it, but the writing was so good that it kept me with the story. I am very glad it did because as the reader finishes part one, narrated by the headmaster, and ventures on into parts two and three, narrated by different characters, the...more
I recently finished reading "The Headmaster's Wife" by Thomas Christopher Greene. I admit to being somewhat at a loss on how to review this book. This is a book told by multiple voices and it is incumbent on the reader to determine what is true and what is an altered perception of reality. The setting is the elite world of the private New England prep school - Lancaster, in Vermont. Arthur Winthrop is Lancaster's headmaster, a position that his father held before him. When the book opens, Arthur...more
Ladybug Lynn
Most reviews say that the book is about grief and loss. While that is true, it is more a story of our choices and justifications for those choices and how they lead to grief. Elizabeth's (the titular Headmaster's Wife) life is heartbreaking not because of the big thing that is revealed in the book but because of the bad choices she makes. Choices she makes for comfort and out of loneliness instead of belief in those decisions. So sad. Read the book for the examination of a life not lived to the...more
Catherine Linka
Here's what happens when I really love a book and don't want it to end. I race through, and then, read backwards. i reread the last chapters in reverse order so I can savor what I was too impatient to slowly read the first time. And that's exactly what I did with The Headmaster's Wife.

I love how character's tell their stories, but things that happen to them can make them unreliable narrators. We tell our lives through our own personal lenses, but sometimes those lenses get distorted. We cannot b...more
Diane Yannick
I was drawn into the current of the narrative but I didn't much like the ride. There were some plot twists and psychological revelations that kept me reading. I just never felt totally invested in the events. I wasn't rooting for anyone to come out on top. I just wanted to see how everything came together at the end. For me, the ending was a tidy cop out by the author. It just didn't ring true for me.

What I want from a book is becoming increasingly clear to me. I want to happily inhabit the ima...more
Amy *Rawr*
Thomas Christopher Greene's writing was done beautifully. I read the acknowledgments part and it said that he wrote this book for his second daughter who was born early and died. If I had known that when I was going in to read the book I would have had a different mindset. As it was this was a very complex story that was well written.

Greene writes in a way that draws in the reader. However, the plot seemed confusing to me and I feel as though I didn't understand the message of the story properly...more
This story pulled me in right away, I was intrigued. It is definitely a story of grief. While it isn't a thriller, the suspense is built around the chain of events that led to what happened to Arthur and why he was found walking naked in Central Park.

It's an interesting story and I enjoyed it.
Sue Loved this book. Enjoyed that the book was written from three different perspectives. Eager to read more by this author.
19 hours, 40 min ago · delete
Pamela Bayer
This is truly an absorbing psychological study of how fast life moves while personal loss, life changes and love abruptly manifests and dissipates in a rash of time. The three chapters of the book demonstrates how personal values will alter ones life drastically in the form of both good and bad or right in the middle. This unique New England Prep school mystery is definitely going to be one of my top favorites for 2014.
Received ARC courtesy of giveaway

This book is a definite must read! I would put it down for a few minutes to do something else and be drawn right back to it!

There are so many layers to this novel--relationships between husbands and wives, mothers and sons, fathers and sons, employer and employee, boyfriend and girlfriend. Then there are the images of snow and rivers and coldness. Then comes madness/sanity, love/hate, life/death.

This is a novel that you will continue to think about...more
Gill Chedgey
The Headmaster’s Wife Thomas Christopher Greene

I received an uncorrected bound proof copy of this novel from Real Readers. The writer was unfamiliar to me and given the wonderful diversity of material from Real Readers I wasn’t sure what to expect.

It was very easy to read and I completed it in a couple of sittings. You could be forgiven for thinking that a book so easily and quickly read lacks substance but nothing could be further from the truth.

The opening section begins innocuously enough. I...more
The Headmaster's Wife
Thomas Christopher Greene

What it's all about...

I could just say that it is a story about a headmaster and his wife but this book is so much more.

My thoughts after reading this book...

This book is one of those delightful puzzles...from the opening the author led me to believe one thing...when the reality was something totally different.

Without giving anything is something to ponder. There is a man running in the park and suddenly he is naked and just as suddenly...more
Linda Rollins
This is a story, as the title suggests, about a headmaster’s wife and consequently about the headmaster of an elite school who may, or may not, have committed a most heinous crime.

It starts as a story of dark and obsessive passion. The twist, sudden and dramatic half way through the story, brings with it an underlying sadness, recollections of good times, the pains of growing old, tragedy and madness brought on by grief.

The change of direction sadly results in a loss of momentum and the continui...more
Many people have called this excellent novel a psychological thriller, but that term doesn't do it justice. It is a meditation on grief, alcoholism, and mental illness, what holds a marriage together and what tears it apart, and class and privilege. It is very well written and engrossing. I highly recommend it.

Here's one quotation from the novel:

"But if you learn anything in marriage it is when to give up. I used to think that all marriages ran the same trajectory. They start with wanting to cl...more
(Review for Real Readers (, who sent me the review copy of the novel.)

We are introduced to the main character in 'The Headmaster's Wife', Arthur Winthrop, as he strips naked and walks barefoot through the snow in a park. Upon his arrest, he tells the police about his life as an headmaster of an elite American prep. school, his relationship with his wife, and his short-lived affair with a young female student which quickly turns into obsession on his part.

The book is divided...more
This is a standout novel that at times has you open mouthed as the true nature of the story is slowly revealed. What appears at first to be the story of an illicit relationship gone wrong transforms into a story of grief and loss and of a man slowly unravelling before your eyes.
Fast paced and gripping, you are drawn in from the very start and the first few pages leave you intrigued and eager to find out what has happened to this man to bring him to such a low point in his life. The quality of wr...more
This is a quick, well-written read, and you'll be caught up in the story right away. It did seem the ending was rushed. I wanted more details about the wife's feelings and the decisions she was facing, but the book just stopped. Also, the ending seemed a little too wrapped up since real life seldom works out so neatly. The rest of the book was so realistic/believable that I wanted the conclusion to have a little more grit than it did. I haven't read anything else by this author, but I would put...more
I enjoyed 'The Headmaster's Wife' by Thomas Christopher Greene. The book was well written and the reader easily becomes involved in the narrative. During the beginning of the book the story is told from the point of view of the Headmaster, Arthur who has evidently had some sort of psychotic break. As the story progresses, so does the voice of the narrator. By the novel's conclusion the Headmaster's wife, Betsy is the narrator. Greene explores what grief and depression can do to a relationship an...more
Posted first to Blog Critics as Book Review:' The Headmaster's Wife' by Thomas Christopher Greene.

The mind seems to play a strange yet protective role when stress is too much to deal with. What sets off the protectionism is variable and different within individuals. Only those who have truly dealt with the fugue and disjointed thoughts and memories can begin to understand the feelings of others who have evinced the same type of shield.

In The Headmasters Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene, we are...more
Mike Gabor
Like his father before him, Arthur Winthrop is the Headmaster of Vermont’s elite Lancaster School. It is the place he feels has given him his life, but is also the site of his undoing as events spiral out of his control. Found wandering naked in Central Park, he begins to tell his story to the police, but his memories collide into one another, and the true nature of things, a narrative of love, of marriage, of family and of a tragedy Arthur does not know how to address emerges.

A beautifully wri...more
Tel Monks
I devoured this book. Like most readers, a revelation at the end of the first section took me completely by surprise, and drove me on to finish in less than 24 hours.
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Thomas Christopher Greene was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts. Tom has worked in a staple factory; as an oyster shucker; a speechwriter and spokesperson for a presidential campaign; the director of public affairs for two colleges; and as a professor of writing and literature. In 2006, Tom founded the Vermont College of Fine Arts, a top New England arts college, making him the youngest...more
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“anything in a marriage it is when to give up. I used to think that all marriages ran the same trajectory. They start with wanting to climb inside the other person and wear her skin as your own. They end with thinking that if the person across from you says another word, you will put a fork in her neck.” 0 likes
“And she thinks perhaps that is what love is: letting someone else see that part of you that shatters like glass...They will grow old together, broken together, and as long as they both don't completely shatter at the same time, they might find a way to pick each other off the ground.” 0 likes
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