Alone in the ClassroomAlone in the Classroom

ISBN: 978-0-7710-3794-8
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Publishing date: April 26th, 2011

UK edition available from MacLehose Press
Elizabeth Hay’s most intricate, compelling, and seductive novel yet.

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National #1 Bestseller / The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Maclean’s

A Globe and Mail Top Book of 2011 Best Book of 2011

About the Book

In a small prairie school in 1929, Connie Flood helps a backward student, Michael Graves, learn how to read. Observing them and darkening their lives is the principal, Parley Burns, whose strange behaviour culminates in an attack so disturbing its repercussions continue to the present day.

Connie’s niece, Anne, tells the story. Impelled by curiosity about her dynamic, adventurous aunt and her more conventional mother, she revisits Connie’s past and her mother’s broken childhood. In the process she unravels the enigma of Parley Burns and the mysterious, and unrelated, deaths of two young girls. As the novel moves deeper into their lives, the triangle of principal, teacher, student opens out into other emotional triangles – aunt, niece, lover; mother, daughter, granddaughter – until a sudden, capsizing love thrusts Anne herself into a newly independent life.

This spellbinding tale – set in Saskatchewan and the Ottawa Valley – crosses generations and cuts to the bone. It probes the roots of obsessive love and hate, how the hurts and desires of childhood persist and are passed on, as if in the blood. It lays bare the urgency of discovering what we were never told about the past. And it celebrates the process of becoming who we are in a world full of startling connections that lie just out of sight.


The Pickle Me This review of Alone in the Classroom

Kerry Clare's Pickle Me This is a highly regarded book blog full of thoughtful reviews and literary insights. A recent review describes Alone in the Classroom as, "An unsettling book, whose story goes where you don’t think it will, and doesn’t answer all its...

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Winnipeg Free Press review of Alone in the Classroom

"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." Read the...

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Vancouver Sun review of Alone in the Classroom

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....

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Toronto Star review of Alone in the Classroom

"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...

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Calgary Herald review of Alone in the Classroom

"But Alone in the Classroom is not merely a murder mystery. It mixes in layers of historic memoir, family secrets, romance and subtle hints of social commentary. Spanning generations, it's a character study not only of the disturbing Parley, but also of the...

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