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People Magazine - March 17, 2014
A tightly woven, atmospheric thriller about a New England academic
whose life goes off the rails.
The Denver Post – March 14, 2014
Greene's deft and nimble hand make the story itself a guiltless
pleasure to read.
Booklist - February 1, 2014
"…Greene’s genre-bending novel of madness and despair evokes
both the predatory lasciviousness of Nabokov’s classic, Lolita, and
the anxious ambiguity of Gillian Flynn’s contemporary thriller, Gone
Publishers Weekly - November 18, 2013
Nothing is what it appears in this brilliant story of a life gone
awry, in Greene’s fourth novel set in New England (after 2007’s
Envious Moon). Arthur Winthrop, headmaster of the Vermont-based
Lancaster School, is found wandering around naked in snow-covered
Central Park in New York City, and as he explains to the authorities
what brought him to this disturbing situation, the reader is led to
believe that the book will be the story of his ill-advised affair
with a female student named Betsy Pappas. But it is actually about
the trajectory of Arthur’s inauspicious marriage; about Betsy, a
young woman trying to improve her lot; and about Arthur’s family
history. Greene, founder of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, ably
recreates the rarified ambience of a New England private school—the
awareness of social class, the faculty politics, the deference paid
to the headmaster and his family. And when it becomes clear that
Winthrop’s delusions run far deeper than were previously apparent,
the author’s true intentions make this tale even more remarkable,
for the book is, at its core, a trenchant examination of one
family’s terrible loss and how the aftermath of tragedy can make or
break a person’s soul.
Library Journal Starred review– November 15, 2013
Greene (Mirror Lake; Envious Moon) has created a brilliant,
harrowing novel depicting the spectacular unraveling of a once
distinguished and proudly successful man. He has also conceived one
of the most convincingly drawn unreliable narrators that readers may
ever meet, a character recalling the creations of Edgar Allan Poe.
It is nearly halfway through the novel before we begin to understand
that our storyteller, Arthur Winthrop, the headmaster of the elite
Lancaster School in Vermont, is delusional and psychotic―and has
suffered a catastrophic mental breakdown. A number of events trigger
this collapse, including the loss of his son in the Iraq war and the
heavy drinking that follows this tragedy. Also crucial to this
breakdown is an old crime that haunts Arthur, one he committed at
Lancaster as a student many years ago with the help of his father,
the previous headmaster, and which involved the boyfriend of an
ex-girlfriend of Arthur's. VERDICT This is a riveting psychological
novel about loss and the terrible mistakes and compromises one can
make in love and marriage. Essential for fans of literary fiction.