Review Excerpts

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 Girl (2012).”

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.

The Headmaster's Wife