In 2014, Lily King wrote the hit novel Euphoria, based on the life (specifically, the very eventful love life) of anthropologist Margaret Mead. But it wasn’t the first time she’d written a female-fronted drama, having also published a critically-acclaimed debut and The English Teacher—a literature-infused story that has echoes of the most propulsive thrillers.
The English Teacher’s heroine is—you guessed it—an English teacher named Vida, who's known for her brilliance and no-nonsense command of the classroom. We first meet Vida in the fall of 1979, just as she makes a decision that baffles even her: She’s going to get married.
Since arriving at New England’s Fayer Academy fifteen years ago—a fatherless baby cradled in her arms—Vida has scorned the idea of marriage. Instead, she has dedicated herself to her work and now-teenage son, Peter, who yearns for a normal family. More than ambition, Vida has been driven by a desire to reform her identity, which kept her moored to a tragedy of her past.
And yet, Vida has agreed to marry Tom Belou, the widower father of Stuart (a budding Buddhist who is college-age but not college-bound), Fran (who throws Peter for a tizzy), and young Caleb. But despite Tom’s best intentions, he and his bride never seem to enjoy, or even find, the honeymoon bliss of most newlyweds. Rather, Vida is tense and cold, unwilling to give herself fully to her new husband, and immerses herself in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Her aloofness—so deeply entwined with her secrets—creates a rising tension as Vida continues to retreat, both emotionally and physically, from her family. But what secrets is Vida hiding? And what will happen once those secrets do, in fact, come into the light? The following excerpt of The English Teacher begins to give us some answers, as Vida starts to unravel, and things come to a head in the Belou household.
Click here to read an excerpt of The English Teacher by Lily King, and then download the book.
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