The English Teacher by Lily King

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Chosen by the Chicago Tribune and Publishers Weekly as one of the Best Novels of 2005, Lily King's new novel is a story about an independent woman and her fifteen-year-old son, and the 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 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.

This is a passionate tale of a mother and son's vital bond and a provocative look at our notions of intimacy, honesty, loyalty, and the real meaning of home. A triumphant and masterful follow-up to her multi-award-winning debut, The English Teacher confirms Lily King as one of the most accomplished and vibrant young voices of today.

About Lily King

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Lily King's first novel, The Pleasing Hour won the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and was a New York Times Notable Book and an alternate for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Her second book, The English Teacher, was a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Book of the Year, a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year, and the winner of the Maine Fiction Award. Lily is the recipient of a MacDowell Fellowship and a Whiting Award. Her short fiction has appeared in literary magazines including Ploughshares and Glimmer Train, as well as in several anthologies. She lives with her family in Maine. Visit Lily's website at
Published December 1, 2007 by Grove Press. 256 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Despite Tom’s repeated explanation, readers will wonder what attracted Vida and Tom in the first place, since King allows the thoroughly unlikable Vida no inkling of warmth toward Tom, one of those characters too saintly not to be stepped on by the women they love.

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Publishers Weekly

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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.

Jun 20 2005 | Read Full Review of The English Teacher

Austin Chronicle

King slips between characters so effortlessly that even the misanthropic tang of Vida's cogitations – her distaste for technology, her intolerance of her colleagues' personal flaws, her barbed observations about the man who adores her so stupidly – dissolves when King downshifts into the voice of...

Sep 09 2005 | Read Full Review of The English Teacher

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