At the heart of The Headmaster’s Wife is the role family, tradition, and expectations play in the unfolding of our lives.
For generations, the Winthrop patriarchs have been headmaster of this small prep school in Vermont. Lancaster is steeped in its proud traditions, and almost as if there is no choice in the matter, the roles are passed down from father to son.
Arthur Winthrop and his wife Elizabeth are living in the lovely and welcoming home provided for the headmaster, and their lives are set in certain ways. Their routines mark their days.
But as our story opens, in a section called Acrimony, Arthur is narrating in his first person voice, and what we are learning seems incredible. The tale alternates between Arthur’s version and a third person account that seems to be taking place in a Manhattan police station.
Before we can even sense the accuracy of what occurs, we are brought into the section called Expectations, and Elizabeth’s perspective is revealed.
Was their destiny set for them because of their choices? Or were the traditions and expectations of others responsible for what transpired for the characters? How do grief and the frightening events of the 21st Century affect Arthur and Elizabeth as their lives seemingly implode?
In the end, in the section called After, some more revelations and mysteries of the past are resolved, and there is a hopeful aura that surrounds the characters.
This story was difficult to review, as so many potential spoilers lurk around every corner. Suffice it to say that whatever you thought might happen, you will be surprised. I think that I will recall and reflect on these events and these characters for a long while. 5 stars.