A naked old man found wandering through Central Park turns out to be the Headmaster of a Vermont elite prep school. How can this be? How can such a man come to this? It violates every belief we carry about the inhabitants of that world. The Headmaster’s Wife, weaves a tale of obsession, grief and soul-breaking loss with all of the suspense and absorption of a first class mystery.
Arthur Winthrop, son of Lancaster School’s headmaster lives a predestined life. He will become Headmaster in his turn. He falls in love with Betsy Pappas, a scholarship student, and all is well, but then Betsy meets another man. Arthur’s love becomes an obsession, carrying him into actions that will doom his marriage and lead to further obsessions.
For Betsy Pappas, a child of chaotic shifts in fortune, Arthur promises a life of stability and dignity, an attraction that, for a sixteen year old, is easily confused with love. But then she meets her true love and what follows will live on to crumble their marriage and derange their souls.
One blow will finish the job and the death of their son in Iraq provides it. This is not a tale that ends well; on the contrary, it speaks to the fragility of the human psyche—where uncontrolled grief can carry us, what our need for security can lead us to accept, the cost to our sanity to going one step too far—the fatal weaknesses that can destroy us. It is a tragedy in the fullest meaning of that word.