From the author of The Pleasing Hour: A “moving and deeply absorbing” novel of painful truths and the refuge of fiction set in a New England prep school (Newsday).
A Chicago Tribune and Publishers Weekly Best Novel
Fifteen years ago, English teacher Vida Avery arrived alone and pregnant at the elite Fayer Academy. Living on the campus off the coast of New England, she worked to become a beloved fixture of the school—and to shelter herself and her son, Peter, from a painful secret she left behind.
Then she accepts the impulsive marriage proposal of ardent widower Tom Belou, and the prescribed life Vida has constructed begins to come apart. As Peter bonds with Tom and his new stepsiblings, Vida retreats further into the books she teaches. To embrace life and a chance at happiness, she will have to face the nightmares of her former self—and shed the pain she has held onto for far too long.
Following her multiple award-winning debut, The Pleasing Hour, Lily King has written a “domestic drama with the adrenalin-fueled beating heart of a thriller” (Elle).
“King is a wonderfully engaging writer who creates characters and situations we can’t resist.” —The Washington Post
A marriage of single parents is more often the stuff of sitcoms than of serious novels, but King (The Pleasing Hour) uses it to great effect in this intense character study. Single mother Vida Avery teaches English at an exclusive northeastern private high school and has a host of protective rituals that keep her life with adolescent son Peter basically on track; she also allows everyone, including boyfriend Tom, to think that she had been married to Peter's father. Peter, who has longed for an intact family, is thrilled when Vida accepts the proposal of Tom, a widower with three children albeit in an ambivalent manner full of simmering private rage. Whiting winner King renders Vida's seething withholding in a free, direct style that captures everything from knowing responses toward a male co-worker ("who wanted to play jilted suitor, not because he had loved her, but because she had not loved him") to her dreams of killing Peter. She's also excellent on the children's reactions to each other as the households come together and then separate, dramatically and perhaps permanently. King keeps Vida in tight focus throughout, even as the wrenching story of Peter's conception slowly comes to light.