Thursday 1 May 2014


Book review: The Headmaster's Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

My edition: paperback (proof), published on 1 May 2014 by Corvus, 288 pages.

Description: Arthur Winthrop is a middle-aged headmaster at an elite prep school in Vermont. When he is arrested for an act that is incredibly out of character, the strait-laced, married headmaster confesses to a much more serious crime.

Arthur reveals that he has had a passionate affair with a scholarship student called Betsy Pappas. But Betsy is a fickle and precocious teenager. When she switches her attentions to a classmate, Arthur's passion for Betsy turns, by degrees, into something far darker. Now Arthur must tell the truth about what happened to Betsy.

But can Arthur's version of events be trusted - or is the reality much more complex and unnerving?


While titled The Headmaster's Wife, this is foremost the story of the headmaster himself; Arthur Winthrop. He is a middle-aged prep school headmaster who is found confused and indecent in a park and when telling (though rambling is a more apt name for what occurs next) his story at the police station it turns out that a much more sinister act may have taken place that led to Arthur wandering the park stark naked in the first place.

Through flashbacks the reader gets to know Arthur from when he was a young boy himself, until he followed in his father's footsteps to become the master of Lancaster School in Vermont. Happily married at first, he becomes increasingly frustrated with his life as he gets older (classic mid-life crisis, or so it seems) and he embarks on an affair with a student which eventually leads to his unbecoming.

Neither the cover nor the blurb of The Headmaster's Wife particularly spoke to me, so I was pleasantly surprised that it managed to capture my attention completely within the first few chapters. Right from the get-go the story was doused in oodles of intrigue and mystery and I was more than ready to admit that I had been wrong and that yes, I should really stop judging a book by its cover.

Unfortunately however, this is very much a book of two halves and for me the second part didn't work at all. Sure there were some (not so surprising) twist and turns which put the entire first half of the novel in a different perspective, but by doing so it actually took away that part of the story which had me so gripped from the first page.

So while this novel had an incredibly intriguing and engaging start, it unfortunately faltered in the middle and eventually disappointed in the end. It's a well-written story and the first half was compelling and solid enough for me to give it 3 stars, but it's a shame that it didn't continue on the same absorbing level until its conclusion.

You can purchase a copy of the novel from Waterstones,, or your own preferred retailer.

Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with him online at:



Many thanks to RealReaders for providing an advance copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

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