From the author of The Rope Walk, the story of a woman’s life in its twilight, as she looks back on both a harrowing childhood and the unaccountable love and happiness that emerged from it.
Ruth has always been the headmaster’s wife — the kind of woman who has stood steadfastly at the side of her upstanding, brilliant husband Peter, the legendary chief of the Derry School for boys. The childless couple has a unique and passionate bond, which grew out of the strange devastation of Ruth’s childhood and her arrival on his family’s doorstep as a girl orphaned by tragedy; Ruth, the lifelong helpmeet, sometimes frustrated by her role, is equally awed by her good fortune in having found him. As the novel opens we see the Derry school in all its glorious fall colors and witness the loosening of the aging Peter’s grasp — he will soon have to retire, and Ruth is wondering what it has all been for, as well as what they will do in their old age, separated from the school, into which they have poured everything, including their savings. The novel takes us back through their days and years, revealing the explosive spark and joy of their love, undiminished now in their seventies. A deeply felt portrait of a woman from the generation that quietly put their dreams aside for the good of a partnership, and the surprising gift of the right man’s love, which keeps giving to the end.
Published by Pantheon Books / ISBN: 978-0-307-90803-2
Published by Anchor Books / ISBN: 978-0-345-80318-4
2013 Finalist for the Library of Virginia’s Book Award