Unanimously praised for her first novel, The Pleasing Hour
, which was called “splendid . . . powerful . . . [and] so assured it’s hard to believe the book itself is her debut” by The New York Times Book Review
, Lily King has written a thrilling successor. In The English Teacher
, King uses her superb craftsmanship, effortlessly suspenseful pacing, and tenderly observed insight into marriage, motherhood, and family to expertly limn the life of an independent single mother and her fifteen-year-old son, who is on a circuitous path toward a truth she has long concealed from him.
Fifteen years ago Vida Avery arrived alone and pregnant at elite Fayer Academy
. She has since become a fixture and one of the best English teachers Fayer has ever had. By living on campus, on an island off the New England
coast, Vida has cocooned herself and her son, Peter, from the outside world and from an inside secret. For years she has lived largely through the books she teaches, but when she accepts the impulsive marriage proposal of ardent widower Tom Belou, the prescribed life Vida has constructed is swiftly dismantled.
Peter, however, welcomes the changes. Excited to move off campus, eager to have siblings at last, Peter anticipates a regular life with a “normal” family. But the Belou children are still grieving, and the memory of their recently dead mother exerts a powerful hold on the house. As Vida begins teaching her signature book, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, a nineteenth-century tale of an ostracized woman and social injustice, its themes begin to echo eerily in her own life and Peter sees that the mother he perceived as indomitable is collapsing and it is up to him to help.
The English Teacher
is a passionate tale of a mother and son’s vital bond and a provocative look at our notions of intimacy, honesty, loyalty, family, and the real meaning of home. A triumphant and masterful follow-up to her award-winning debut, The English Teacher
confirms Lily King as one of the most accomplished and vibrant young voices of today. Praise for The Pleasing Hour:
“Splendid . . . powerful . . . so assured that it’s hard to believe the book itself is her debut.” Jacqueline Carey, The New York Times Book Review
“Delightful . . . Introduces a very talented writer of great promise.” Lelia Ruckenstein, Washington Post Book World
“A rich first novel about families lost and found from a promising writer with an ear for the kind of language from the heart, that touches deeply.” The Christian Science Monitor
“Though she tells lean stories, King can brush lush descriptions with majestic colors and vivid, fleeting pleasures.” The Seattle Times
“Beautifully wrought . . . what people do to each other and the legacies they leave are King’s central subjects, and in her deft hands they’re explored in complicated, ambitious ways that leave us feeling as if we’ve become fluent in a foreign language.” Karen Shepard, USA Today
“[An] impressive debut from a writer who knows how to uncover the saving impulses of the heart.” Lisa Shea, Elle