THE CHATHAM SCHOOL AFFAIR by Thomas H. Cook

THE CHATHAM SCHOOL AFFAIR

KIRKUS REVIEW

 From a celestial-seeming distance, Henry Griswald looks back on 192627, the year disaster overtook the Chatham School, where his mild, proper father served as headmaster until the events precipitated by the fatal arrival of art teacher Elizabeth Channing and English teacher Leland Reed. Henry remembers how he accepted Miss Channing's tutelage in drawing and helped Reed work on the boat he was building to sail away from Massachusetts, ignoring his family's orphaned boarder Sarah Doyle to fantasize instead about the free-spirited couple, and deploring the resistance of Reed's inconvenient wife and daughter. Pausing in his leisurely narrative to throw out hints of an impending calamity at Black Pond, recall his own testimony at Miss Channing's trial for murder, and observe the principals staggering under the weight of their past and future, Henry evokes by turns the lovers' stifled passion, his unreasoning hatred of his father and his determination to avoid growing up to be like him, and his crushing retrospective guilt at whatever it is that he has become. Readers who aren't exasperated by the glacial pace will find themselves entranced. The Go-Between as reworked by Ruth Rendell. Though Cook's story this time is less rich and resonant than Breakheart Hill (1995), reading it is like watching another avalanche in agonizing, exquisite slow-motion.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-553-09652-4
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1996




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