Praise for “Alone in the Classroom”

“An exquisite study of relationships … which meanders in graceful prose across the Canadian landscape and across generations.”

– Financial Times (London)

“[A] slow burning story … The echoes of Hardy’s writing and of his life give the novel touches of an almost gothic darkness … beguilingly and brilliantly imagined.”

– Guardian

“…luminous…Alone in the Classroom is meant to be read slowly, or even better, read twice. The story that unfolds, replete with poetry and punishment, passionate entanglements and incestuous love, and is even richer and more rewarding the second time around.”

– The Globe and Mail

“…not merely a murder mystery. It mixes in layers of historic memoir, family secrets, romance and subtle hints of social commentary…It’s also a story about obsession, childhood and the special relationships between daughters, mothers and aunts. All of which makes for an ambitious vision and unusually literary page-turner, appropriate for an author who has comfortably become part of CanLit royalty.”

– Calgary Herald

“…engrossing…There’s nothing stiff about the fictional past brought to life in this compelling novel. In part, that’s because of Hay’s flair for evocative description, but also because she’s a master of characterization. In their fallibility, their moral struggles and their conflicted desires, the characters of Alone in the Classroom ring utterly true.”

– The Toronto Star

“…an elegant and eloquent story about the wounds carried from childhood into adulthood, and the curiosity, obsessions and passions that can rule and ruin a life…Like all of Hay’s earlier fiction, Alone in the Classroom is a novel that can be read solely for its language, for the author’s precise choice of words that make every landscape, every emotion and every reflection shimmer in colour and shape and texture. It is, as well, a novel that could, and should, be read because it has Connie Flood at its core, an indomitable, charismatic, graceful and memorable woman who is as vividly and convincingly portrayed at 80 as she is at 18. Finally, it is a novel that deserves to be read simply for the truth it speaks about the universal desire to know and to understand the stories and experiences and people that shape individual lives and the lives of those who come after them…Hay’s fiction has always demonstrated a keen appreciation of people, places and history. This novel is further immutable evidence of that.”

– Winnipeg Free Press

“A multilayered tale, the novel is at once a love story, a murder mystery and a journey into the darkest chambers of the human heart…Hay’s strange archeology of the heart will fascinate readers who like to delve deep into the mysteries of human nature, without the promise of treasure at the end — those who see the quest for meaning as a goal in itself…Hay’s achingly poetic evocations of the landscape will leave a lasting impression, as will her uncanny gift of calling up childhood…”

– Ottawa Citizen

“Elizabeth Hay, 2007 Giller Prize winner for Late Nights On Air, returns with her fourth novel, a rich story of interweaving human relationships and generations of a family…If you’re new to Elizabeth Hay, Alone in the Classroom will be an enjoyable introduction. Those anticipating her next book are unlikely to be disappointed.”

– Vancouver Sun

“Flawlessly rendered. Confidently told. A story that, viewed from above is gorgeous and rich and complete, the imperfections in the world created revealed only to those who jump in with both feet and look beyond the polite veneer to the flawed humans who give the story its pulse.”

– January Magazine

“Impressively well-written, and poignant…. Hay’s story, like concentric circles, expands as it unfolds….an intriguing read…”

– Toronto Sun

“An exquisitely rendered journey into the mysteries of the past in families and in lives…”

– Salon

“Eerie and thoughtful…. [A] closely observed generational story about family and heredity.”

– Elle Canada

“A master at description of the warp and woof of family relationships, [Hay’s] novels remind me of nothing less than Annie Proulx…. Hay is a master storyteller.”

– The Sun Times (Owen Sound)

“An ambitious vision and unusually literary page-turner…”

– Calgary Herald

“Eroticism and obsessive love are potent forces in Alone in the Classroom.”

– Maclean’s

“Precise, riveting, and memorable…. Hay is capable of sending palpable chills down the reader’s spine….”

– Quill and Quire

“An evocative, enigmatic unravelling of family stories over three generations…”

– More Magazine

“A highly accomplished and resourceful stylist.”

– The Spectator

“What we take away from this stunning book are the natural descriptions and the characters.”


“I adored Elizabeth Hay’s Late Nights on Air a few years ago, and was so pleased to find that this follow-up met all of my expectations…”

– Pickle Me This