- By Elizabeth Hay

Alone in the Classroom

  • Title: Alone in the Classroom
  • Author: Elizabeth Hay
  • ISBN: 9780771037979
  • Page: 408
  • Format: Paperback
  • Alone in the Classroom Elizabeth Hay s highly acclaimed national bestseller now in a deluxe paperback edition Hay s runaway bestseller novel crosses generations and cuts to the bone of universal truth about love and our re

    Elizabeth Hay s highly acclaimed, national bestseller now in a deluxe paperback edition Hay s runaway bestseller novel crosses generations and cuts to the bone of universal truth about love and our relationship with the past In 1930, a school principal in Saskatchewan is suspected of abusing a student Seven years later, on the other side of the country, a girl picking wElizabeth Hay s highly acclaimed, national bestseller now in a deluxe paperback edition Hay s runaway bestseller novel crosses generations and cuts to the bone of universal truth about love and our relationship with the past In 1930, a school principal in Saskatchewan is suspected of abusing a student Seven years later, on the other side of the country, a girl picking wild cherries meets a violent end These are only two of the mysteries in the life of the narrator s charismatic aunt, Connie Flood As the narrator Anne pieces together her aunt s lifelong attachment to her former student Michael Graves, and her obsession with Parley Burns, the inscrutable principal implicated in the assault of Michael s younger sister, her own story becomes connected with that of the past, and the triangle of principal, teacher, student opens out into other emotional triangles aunt, niece, lover mother, daughter, granddaughter until a sudden, capsizing love changes Anne s life Alone in the Classroom is Elizabeth Hay s most tense, intricate, and seductive novel yet.

    1 thought on “Alone in the Classroom

    1. For a book about the horrible murder of one young girl, an attack on another, stalking, obsession, and numerous affairs and broken marriages, there's surprisingly little urgency. The whole thing felt very detached from events that I would expect to feel compelling, but from which the narrative kept its emotional distance. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here. In the meantime, you can read the [...]

    2. This is a tough book to review. I'm torn by the fact that Hay is a marvellous, compelling, powerful writer, but seems to have struggled with the focus of this novel rather unsuccessfully and inconclusively. Who is the protagonist? Who is the antagonist? You could make a case for at least two characters for each of these roles. The protagonist might be the narrator Anne - or it could be her aunt Connie. The antagonist could be the high school principal whose actions lead to at least one of his st [...]

    3. It is rare that I am as frustrated by a novel as I was with this one. Hay chooses Connie's niece Anne as the narrator and her view of things is inaccurate and unsatisfying to say the least. I wanted to know more about Connie, Michael and Syd because I really liked them. I also wanted to find out if Parley had raped Susan and killed Ethel. I wondered how Anne, a third party, could possibly know things like the scene between Parley and Susan Graves.Everything just seemed muddled. The timeline and [...]

    4. I really liked "Student of Weather" and "Late Nights on Air" and was eager to read Hay's latest book. I was disappointed!The story begins in 1929 when a very young Connie Flood starts teaching in rural Saskatchewan. She befriends a dyslexic boy, Michael, who idolizes her. Connie is confused and disconcerted by the behaviour of Parley Burns, the school principal, but finds support and guidance from Syd Goodwin, the school inspector. A tragedy occurs in the community and, soon after, Parley and Co [...]

    5. This saga set in set in Saskatchewan describes how circumstances associated with a murder ripple through several generations. So much of Elizabeth Hay’s prose compelled this reader to linger! She clearly has an eye for beauty in the outdoors and captures it skillfully… “Birds compete for the berries. Robins peck the guts out of strawberries. Finches, robins, blue jays, kingbirds, cedar waxwings – all of them go after the chokeberries that favor fencerows and roadsides and the edges of op [...]

    6. In this spectacularly subtle novel, Giller prizewinner Elizabeth Hay (for Late Nights on Air) braids family history and natural history, and paints an intricate, beguiling portrait of rural Canadian life in Saskatchewan and in the Ottawa Valley. Spanning the years 1927-2007, it opens up with the brutal murder of young schoolgirl Ethel Wier in 1937 Argyle (in Saskatchewan), a silver pail of chokecherries spilled near her bruised and battered body. This tragedy unfolds not in isolation, but connec [...]

    7. Writing about the interweaving of human relationships is not an easy task, even for the best of writers. But fortunately, Elizabeth Hay is among the best in writers. In fact, she may be one of the very finest writers at work in Canada today.Rich in imaginings, masterfully conceived, flawlessly executed, Alone in the Classroom is a nuanced book, told by the present day perspective of Anne who is researching her family history.It’s a book not easily defined – part murder mystery, part historic [...]

    8. elizabeth hay is magical with her words and stories. it's amazing to me, her quiet but nuanced prose (if that makes sense?). i find that hay has a great ability to capture intimate details of human nature and convey them in her writing. but her style doesn't punch you in the face. it just sort of envelopes you gently yet she will still get deep into your bones. i sound like such a prig. sorry! :) i had the chance to hear hay read from this book a while ago and so it was nice having her voice in [...]

    9. i recently read Sarah's Key which seems hugely popular right now. i thought it contrived and a little patronizing. and one of my biggest complaints was how the author tied up every emotional thread into a big bow at the end. i'm sure it was suppose to be satisfying but i did not find it so. it did not ring true to me at all.Alone in the Classroom . well, it's a bit messier, and therefore seems far more honest AND far more true-to-life. it took me a while to get into it probably because i was [...]

    10. I cannot believe that an author of Hay's ability could have started this project with an end to finishing it as she did. The initial insertion briefly of first person Anne (a writer, we eventually discover, of Hay's sex, generation and mother's locale which tempts the reader into visions of creative non-fiction,) almost incidentally made the set up needlessly complex if not convoluted. It distracted greatly from what I found to be a story as gripping and powerful as Late Nights on Air, a story t [...]

    11. "Nothing would give up life:Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath."For it is in the verdant, succulent, jungle of memories and hopes that this book establishes itself, absorbing the reader in its tale of Eriksonian generativity. It is also a visual feast, akin to finding oneself in a world of post-impressionist painting, cavorting with the likes of Van Gogh, Cezanne and Monet. Hay's writing is visual, psychological and metaphorical. Her words sing and as she says in the book, "It's possibl [...]

    12. I found the shifts in time and place a bit confusing. There's a certain remove to the narrative, similar to that of Late Nights on Air, though with perhaps less symmetry and focus. This book meanders. But that's alright. I suppose that's what Elizabeth Hay meant for it to do.There's such truth and poetic simplicity to everything she writes. A lovely book.

    13. "He had entered her life on the last day of September in 1929. Tweedy, sophisticated, perverse; an excellent teacher who doubled as principle. He arrived three weeks late, an otherwise punctual man. Jewel was the name of the town in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan". So starts Chapter 2 of this engrossing book. Alone in the Classroom is the third Elizabeth Hay book I've read. A Student of Weather is one of my all time favourite books. Late Nights On Air, a Giller prize winner, I also enjoyed [...]

    14. McClelland & Stewart|April 10, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-7710-3797-9Story Description:Elizabeth Hay’s highly acclaimed, national bestseller now in a deluxe paperback edition.Hay’s runaway bestseller novel crosses generations and cuts to the bone of universal truth about love and our relationship with the past. In 1930, a school principal in Saskatchewan is suspected of abusing a student. Seven years later on the other side of the country, a girl picking wild cherries meets a viole [...]

    15. This novel was beautifully written from beginning to end -- and I expected to rate it with full stars. Although the prose is beautiful -- the plot felt increasingly fragmented as the focus widened from the relationship between Connie and Burns to Connie and Michael, Connie and Syd, Connie and her niece, Connie and her parents. All stories were interesting, but the length of the novel did not afford tackling several narratives in the depth they deserved in only a single volume. The last third of [...]

    16. In the silence of a rural classroom a story unfolds. It is a story of tragedy and loss; a story that examines human nature, love, hate and so much more.Connie's niece, Anne narrates the story. This was confusing for me at times, as much of the story is about Connie's past. Considering this, I think the impact would have been greater if narrated by Connie. Also, I wanted to know much more about certain characters such as Michael and Syd. The characters were developed enough, however at times I fe [...]

    17. The lens which Elizabeth Hay turned on Yellowknife in Late Nights on Air is turned to Saskatchewan in this far reaching story of families and the complexities of relationships. The Ottawa Valley is also a major character. The story goes back and forth from the past to the present and it covers a period of time from the 1920s to the present. It's for me an entirely different story from Late Nights on Air, though I would agree that the themes are similar. Beautifully told, I could see the country [...]

    18. Really good read. Family history mixed in with a bit of a murder (or two) mystery. Lovely settings and great literary references.

    19. Connie was a teacher in small town Saskatchewan where she encountered Parley Burns, the school principal who was an unsettling man. A young girl dies in a fire after an encounter with him, never specified but certainly implied, and Connie leaves the Prairies to become a reporter in the Ottawa Valley eventually, covering a murder of a young woman and this is where she encounters Burns again. The two deaths are not related. She also meets up again with a former student, Michael Graves, who was str [...]

    20. With her new novel 'Alone in the Classroom', award-winning Canadian author, Elizabeth Hay, takes us on a journey into an inner world that is, at least in one aspect or another, familiar to all of us. Each of us has been 'alone in the classroom', just staring at walls or out of a window, struggling with a crucial test; or, emotionally alone, subdued, frightened in front of a teacher or a principal. It is often said that memories of (positive or negative) school situations are among the most vivid [...]

    21. This is a multigenerational story that takes place in two different Canadian locations over a ten year period. Anne Flood is exploring her past, trying to know her family’s history and to understand herself. She always admired her Aunt Connie Flood, who was one of the teachers who went west during the early years of the Depression to staff schools on the Prairies. They taught the children of immigrants, bankers and shopkeepers with a focus on reading and basic math. Although the story starts w [...]

    22. Not really sure about this one. Very dislocated. I enjoyed that it took place where I live. New Yorkers likely get this all the time.

    23. This beautifully written novel, set in Saskatchewan and the Ottawa Valley, focuses on a young schoolteacher, Connie Flood, a backward student, Michael, whom she tries to help, and Parley Burns, the principal, who casts a dark shadow over all who come under his influence. The story begins with a murder, and unfolds both in the present, with the adult Anne trying to make sense of her aunt's story, and in the past, in the early days of Connie's tenure at the small rural school. It's not a novel for [...]

    24. The plot involves a schoolgirl murdered in the Upper Ottawa Valley during the 1940s, another one who died in a fire in Saskatchewan years earlier, the creepy, sadistic principal linked to both girls, and the teacher who brings these stories together and tells them to her niece Annie, the narrator. At times the structure is confusing since the narrative meanders back and forth in both time and place. This structure, however, suggests the process of learning, a slow discovery of truths as we progr [...]

    25. I totally didn't get the point of this book. I was enjoying the first half or so well enough, with the mystery of Ethel laid out, Connie in the schoolhouse in Saskatchewan and Parley and Michael and then OMG what happened to Susan, and it's hinted that somehow all this history is going to come together and build to revelations that, if not shocking, might be enriching, or surprising, or lend new perspectives to some of the characters. And then the book just meanders off into complete repetetive [...]

    26. What an interesting novel! Set in Saskatchewan and the Ottawa Valley, this story goes back and forth in time from 1929 to present day. The narrator of the story is Anne Elizabeth. Anne is the niece of Connie Flood, the main character in this story. Author Elizabeth Hay, through the character of Anne, introduces the reader to many wonderfully well developed personalities like Michael Graves, Parley Burns and Syd Goodwin. Through Anne’s research on her Aunt Connie, we become involved in all of t [...]

    27. Set in the nineteen forties, Alone In The Classroom uses the sexual assault upon a pupil in a small town in Canada as the starting point for a series of meditations on family relationships and the nature of memory. In different ways each of the characters is caught up in the eddies created by past events. They all struggle to come to terms with the legacy of their childhoods and to create their own identities within the limited space allowed them. It's beautifully written with a confident and ac [...]

    28. I enjoyed reading this book in some places. In other places, it seemed to kind of drag. There were questions left unanswered - did they ever find out how the house fire that killed Susan Graves started? Did Parley rape Susan? Why was there no investigation? And what about the murdered girl, Ethel? So Mr Coyle was acquitted, but who killed her? There was a good deal of commentary on this incident and the subsequent trial - I was confused as to how it fit into the story as a whole. I like Ms Hay's [...]

    29. I love Elizabeth Hay and adored A Student of Weather, so I went into this book with good feelings. I am instantly in love with the characters, with the settings, Hay is so descriptive and her settings are not just a background for her novels, they are integral to the story. She will be studied in university classes as a writer of Canadiana, a writer who uses the physicality of Canada in literature. This particular novel had a complex web of characters to sort out, but it was worth it. I didn't l [...]

    30. What an enthralling story, admittedly sometimes a bit weird in the relationship department but the author is a fantastic story teller. The narrative jumps from current to past, seemingly in the middle of a sentence. Switching from the aunt to the niece to stories of past and current happenings in both their lives. It was really the wonderful storytelling that I appreciated in this book, the story was interesting and the characters well developed but it's the way with words that the author has an [...]

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