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The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  169 ratings  ·  34 reviews
“An unsentimental yet moving narrative, a sobering alternative to Dead Poets Society and To Sir, With Love. With its deep probing look at the teaching profession, it unveils a rich array of themes—homosexual awakening, human actions and consequences, the individual in conflict with society, and most compellingly, the nature of perhaps the most noble and difficult of ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 2013 by Epigram Books
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Average rating 3.27  · 
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Hulyacln
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rose de Souza’nın bugün öğretmenlik hayatının son günü.Birazdan vedalaşacağı öğrenciler ve meslektaşlarıyla dolu okula giriyor..Yıllar önce yaptıkları,hatta o doğmadan önce ailesinin başına gelenler de aklına uçuşuyor.
Hayat arkadaşıyla vedalaşma,seneler evvel bir öğrencisiyle konuşmaları,gözü açık gördüğü rüyalar da düşüyor yazıya.
Bayan de Souza’nın son dersi,tam anlamıyla bir iç döküş..İnsanın yaşamında neler yapması ve nasıl bir yol izlemesi gerektiğine dair fikir de edinebiliyorsunuz.
Samimi
...more
Dr_Savage
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
Wong is a decent stylist but that's not quite enough to save the book for me. The characters feel two-dimensional, and while this is fair enough in the case of Amir (who exists only in his former teacher's tormented recollections and daydreams), it's a problem that the narrator, too, isn't interesting enough to sustain the reader's attention or arouse much sympathy. The basic problem is that the rash action she took all those years ago, and which she has never ceased to regret, comes across as ...more
Sabrina Loh
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A deceptively short and undramatic book that exposes a simple truth: never trust the narratives we tell regarding ourselves. Also, the road to hell can be paved with good intentions. Mrs De Souza is clearly unhinged; and the sparse writing does not hide this or couch this in over-description. An unsettling first-person perspective that is not to be trusted, even as the book allows for us to judge De Souza on our own terms.
Felicia
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
I simultaneously pitied and wanted to punch Mrs de Souza. Cyril has created a fantastically believable character in her.
Neelam Babul
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A heart wrenching story of a teacher who is celebrating her birthday and is retiring at the age of sixty as a teacher. On her last day as she receives flowers and well wishes from her students she decides to take a different approach in her class. Instead of teaching them or enlightening them of their new year she narrates a story that she believes truly impacted and changed her life.

Amir was her student and a decision on her part to reveal his secret to his father leads to disastrous
...more
Caner Sahin
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
İçsel ve hüzünlü bir itiraf gibiydi Bayan de Souza'nın dedikleri.
Li Sian
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't expecting this slim novel to bowl me away - short though it is, Cyril Wong's story about a woman who teaches her last class the day before retirement somehow achieves the unhurried and considering voice which strips away the layers of self-presentation - and -delusion - of the titular character. As one might expect from a Cyril Wong work, 'The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza' is full of meditations on culture, society, voice, spirituality, and spiritual death. I found his mastery of voice ...more
Banushka
60 yaşına gelmiş, çok sevdiği kocasını kaybetmiş, yalnız, çocuksuz, iyi de öğretmen olduğuna inanan bayan de souza'nın okuldaki son gününde öğrencilerine yaptığı son konuşmadan oluşuyor aslında roman.
geri dönüşlerle ise annesiyle, kocasıyla ilişkisi verilirken, çocuklara hayatının hatasını anlatma kararı romanın asıl doruk noktasını oluşturuyor.
ben de bunca yıllık bir öğretmen olarak böyle bir hatayı nasıl yaptığına şaştım açıkçası. bok yemiş affedersiniz :/
eşcinsellik öğrenci için de öğretmen
...more
Yalan
Where Cyril Wong succeeds as a poet, he fails as a novelist—at least in this novel. The prose misses and is over-saturated with his poetic style all at once: his attempt at poetic prose ends up eschewing an economy of words, which results in a novel that is over-written without, in the final analysis, saying very much. A few problems:

1. The narrator’s voice is inauthentic and not believable. I did not find it plausible that a 60-year-old woman would, for instance, refer to her skin tone as “the
...more
Andy McDougall
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
This debut novel from one of only two persons to have won the Singaporean Literature Prize twice offers plenty to think about in its less than 150 pages. The eponymous Mrs de Souza narrates her final day as a teacher before retirement, where she tells her class, and us the readers, the story of a former student of hers that continues to haunt her. Along the way there are reflections on society, education, her childhood, her marriage and more besides. With crisp, clear, meditative prose, Wong has ...more
Michael
Sep 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: library
The blurbs damn this book with false praise.

It reads well but I get the nagging feeling of being told what the story is, instead of being shown what it is about.

Mrs de Souza seems to come across about being untethered mentally at times and her narration of what happens to a past pupil Amir doesn't really do much for me in understanding her mindset and doesn't extend and explore the plot further.

The use of "I" locks the reader into seeing the story through Mrs de Souza's eyes and since most of
...more
Christine
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it
A quiet, strange, unexpectedly disturbing story of an aging teacher's regrets. I wouldn't say I liked it, but the story has lingered with me - haunted me, bothered me - and I applaud the writer for that. Mrs. de Souza was never fully fleshed out to me, but as we only know of her what she wants to tell us, it's to be expected that she remains somewhat mysterious, unknowable. I certainly did not understand why she - an older woman brought up in conservative Singapore - would have chosen to do what ...more
Fiona
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
The prose is stylish and precise. The narrative structure, though initially daunting because of the temporal to-and-fros, was surprisingly easy to follow. It was so compelling that I finished this within half an hour, but its haunting effects stayed with me till a few hours later. The last lesson of Mrs De Souza had a last lesson for the retiring teacher, though as it with all lessons, one wonders if she had retained any of it.
Jeffrey Tham
Nov 08, 2013 rated it liked it
I absolutely hated the protagonist, but making me hate her is clearly deliberate--an interesting strategy by the novel. I think De Souza's sense of self-delusion is reflected in the (almost too-simple) structure of the narrative. Also, I was "Amir" once, facing the things that he did in the story, so I can relate.
Alyssa
Feb 15, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: set-in-singapore
Simple but deceptively thought-provoking. What really made this book most haunting for me was surely Mrs De Souza’s nightmares. She really needed to talk to someone about her state of mind and it sucks that she didn’t.
Remy
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own
Good God, Mrs de Souza.
This is absolutely beautiful, in a way I can't describe. I'm not sure if I want to hug Rose or give her a slap. The reality of it all, is so... hauntingly achingly real. this book shall live on in me.
mm
Dec 26, 2013 rated it liked it
A rambling walk down memory lane that required a tighter editing hand. Premise is good but execution isn't of the quality I expected having read wong's books of poetry n enjoyed them. But still a good read.
Déwi
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
The sentiment of the story was a good one but it dragged on and was too predictable.
livdui
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sıradışı bir bakış açısıyla detayları önemseyen bir kitap. Öğretmen-öğrenci ilişkisi esas mevzu olmakla birlikte, sahne arkasında anne-kız ve baba-oğul ilişkisi gibi uyarılmalar da var. Dümdüz sonları sevmeyen biri olarak, hikayenin sonu daha iyi olabilirdi diye düşünmedim değil. Süslü olmayan cümleler arasına usul usul iliştirilen şaşırtıcı kurgu hoşuma gitti. Hislerimizin yalan olduğu, olayların hiç de öyle sandığımız gibi işlemediği anlar için soğuk su etkisini veren ilginç bir kitap. Yazarı ...more
evelyn
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
When a poet like Cyril Wong writes prose, it turns out exceptionally visually compelling. I felt as though I could literally see and picture Mrs de Souza and her classroom of students, and the field outside the window. But what made this novel even more impactful was the sudden ending. It's hard to cope with the sudden revelation at the end, and the character's trauma. But that's what makes it so haunting for the reader. Even after putting down the book, the characters remain so alive in my ...more
Yifarn Loo
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is clearly about a teacher's first-person, unreliable narrative and the more we read into her almost surreal "story", the more we simultaneously feel for her and distrust her at the same time. One appreciates how the novel seems to exist in the fictionalised interim between an actual Singapore and an anonymous place that isn't Singapore at all; much like how De Souza's memories are real-yet-unreal (like any recollection in any ontological sense, whether a result of self-delusion or the ...more
O
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was ok
Unfortunatly less stellar than I'd hoped. After the first two chapters or so, I could signpost where it was heading, and none of the major plot points shocked me at all. It was simply too bland, and for something so life changing, that's criminal. And perhaps shock wasn't the point, perhaps psyche was meant to be the focus, but that didn't draw me in either. It was too draggy, yet too underdrawn. Her self-pity was way too cloying. I'd enjoyed Cyril's short stories, and perhaps that was what this ...more
Julie Koh
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A simple novel that isn't what it seems, I think. More lyrical (and tellingly unreliable) psycho-drama than "novel" in the conventional sense, I'm nonetheless haunted by the mistake the teacher makes (I've known teachers like this, who believe they can do no wrong, especially towards the end of their lives), and by the way the narrative is like a sudden dream one wakes up from shivering and weeping for no apparent reason.
Tricia
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned, fiction
I know this book was written with good intention, but as much as I wanted to like it, the plot and dialogue in the book felt very contrived and the ending (spoiler alert: a letter that sat unnoticed for years suddenly surfacing?) did not sit well with me. It could have been a short story, but instead dragged out into a novel. That said, there were beautiful bouts of prose that I enjoyed. Maybe I should try reading the author's poetry instead. ;)
Melzheng
Aug 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Felt to me like a rambling account of a self-absorbed woman. Granted the narrator had been through quite some trauma, but it was still tough sympathising and empathising with her. Regardless, the text does trigger a certain degree of introspection in the way we deal with others’ shared secrets, and how we hold on to and manipulate memories of the distant past.
Neil H
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Mrs De Souza is collectively a soulless, depraved sociopath. I cannot in good conscience recommend this book unless to see the sliver of human decency of Amir that provides a much needed relief from the suffocating thoughts of Rose. I got really increasingly irritated by the self delusion, aggrandized narrative playing out as composition of her thoughts.
Kavita
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Touching and tragic.
Jacky
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Honestly it didn't sustain my interest throughout. The story was too long drawn and wasn't very interesting. I expected to get more out of it.
Desilu Anne Nair
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A poignant book that was very well written! Enjoyed the themes and sub-themes, the most powerful of which was that of Mrs de Souza's regrets.
Ianna Chia
Sep 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sing-lit
This was such a heart-wrenching short story. A brilliant read. I'm glad this story exists, it's a poignant reminder of how we can't help everyone we love.
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Cyril Wong is a two-time Singapore Literature Prize-winning poet and the recipient of the Singapore National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award for Literature. His books include poetry collections Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light (2007) and The Lover’s Inventory (2015), novels The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza (2013) and This Side of Heaven (2020), and fiction collection Ten Things My Father ...more
“I mostly believe, deep in my bones, that life is very simply beyond description; regardless of what one makes of it, life always spills over the parameters of how anyone has chosen to define it.” 4 likes
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