Review: The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

February 24, 2014 Literary Fiction, Review 6

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (February 25, 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 1250038944
  • Source: Publisher

Being a headmaster is in Arthur Winthrop’s genes. Like his father before him, he serves as the headmaster of Lancaster School, an elite private school in Vermont.  Lancaster School is his life; he grew up there, went to school there, and now serves as the setting for where his life will spiral out of control.  Arthur’s story, to the reader, begins after he is taken into custody for walking around naked in Central Park.

As he retells his story to the police, Arthur’s confusion and mental anguish are apparent. He tells of the weight being a headmaster places on him, the toll it has taken on him emotionally, his obsession with a young student, and how all of this has taken a toll on his marriage.  Arthur’s madness and obvious struggle to maintain some semblance of his life is quite apparent.  The intensity of this mental anguish is made clearly apparent in the second half of the book, in a segment certain to shock and induce jaw-dropping in the most astute of readers.

At it’s very core, however, The Headmaster’s Wife is a novel full of surprises, a novel completely unlike what this reader expected. In the beginning, it reads like a thriller, a mystery of sorts. Ultimately, however, it is a beautifully written exploration of love, of family, and how the loss of someone so dear to you can send your entire world, your very being, into a downward, out of control, spiral.

This is a novel that will capture your attention from the beginning. As I read, I was a bit wary of the path this author was taking. “Oh, it’s going to be one of THOSE books.” And then…when IT was revealed….I was in a stunned silence. Typically, I can predict when something big, a sudden revelation is about to take place. Certainly not in this case!  Instead, this shift in plot had me obsessed with reading more, devouring this book to the very end. I read it in a matter of hours, a challenging feat as of late.  Without giving much away, I will warn readers to be wary, all is not as it seems!

For the reasons listed above, this novel will, without a doubt, top my list of favorites of 2014. It will leave you speechless, stunned by how expertly this author has captured tragedy and the loss.  Greene knows loss, it serves as his inspiration for writing this novel. To learn more, please check out the video embedded below.


Bottom line, The Headmaster’s Wife  is an absolutely brilliant and touching piece of writing. I am now and forever in awe of this author’s talent, my heart aching for the pain he endured. Rather than becoming a victim to his pain, he used it to produce a truly remarkable, unforgettable novel. Highly, highly recommended.


6 Responses to “Review: The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene”

  1. Ann Walters

    Why oh why has this book been sitting in a pile of ARCs next to my bed? After reading your review I can’t wait to read it!

  2. Michelle

    How did I miss this? Or better yet, why did I decide to pass on it? I’m totally regretting that decision now. Ah, well. I’ll add it to my growing list of books I need to buy.

  3. Ann@booksonthetable

    Wow! I just read the whole book on a 4 hour plane trip. So original and surprising!