Alone in the Classroom

Alone in the Classroom

Book - 2011
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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.

Following her award-winning, #1 bestselling Late Nights on Air , Alone in the Classroom is Elizabeth Hay's most intricate, compelling, and seductive novel yet

Publisher: Toronto : McClelland & Stewart, c2011
ISBN: 9780771037948
Branch Call Number: c823 H4121a
Characteristics: 306 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

In a small prairie school in 1929, Connie Flood teaches Michael Graves to read. Watching unseen is their principal Parley Burns whose strange behaviour ultimately ends in an attack so disturbing its repercussions are felt through present day. Told through the voice of Connie’s niece, this spellbi... Read More »

A niece tells the story of her aunt, a former prairie school room teacher, whose witnessing of a disturbing and violent episode reverberates into the present. In revisiting her Aunt’s adventurous and unconventional past, Anne, the niece, comes to terms with her own mother’s troubled childhood, un... Read More »

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Mar 26, 2017

A good read, beautifully written, that examines ‘schooling’ vs ‘education’ through a 50+ year span in small town, Canada. Hay blends this focus with mystery, family dynamics, the urges of love, and the secrets of small towns where folks are willing to simply forget tragedy and move on. The characters are memorably depicted and, despite some confusing jumping around in time, their stories ring true as we follow the impact of the events in their lives.

Jun 28, 2016

I would not recommend this book. It lacks conclusion. The story keeps jumping in time. At times it is hard to know who is a leading character. Life stories are twisted and larger than life. In my opinion Elizabeth Hay is a good writer; I enjoyed her writing, but not this book.

Apr 07, 2016

I have read other novels by Elizabeth Hay and found them very enjoyable, as they took me into another world that I was anxious to dissolve into. However, this book meandered all over the place and didn't really have a climax. Nothing was really revealed at the end of the book. It just seemed like a slice out of a group of characters' lives, with a beginning but no conclusion.

Jun 05, 2013

The setting in the Ottawa Valley and inclusion of events such as the Almonte train wreck made the book enjoyable for someone from this area. However, in the end, Hay really does not have anything interesting to say.

Nov 20, 2012

Told by a niece of a Teacher on the Prairies and then moves to Ottawa. Lives encountered as students, friends and relatives. Murder of a young girl and the quest for who did it runs through the tale.

BPLNextBestAdults Jun 05, 2012

“Alone in the classroom” is an interesting twist of murder mystery and relationship novel. The novel deals with the life of Connie Flood, an eighteen-year-old-teacher who is working in a small town in Saskatchewan. While Connie is working in Saskatchewan a fifteen-year-old student, Susan, is sexually assaulted by the school principal. Connie develops a special relationship with one of her students, Michael, who is struggling in school. Seven years later in the Ottawa valley an eight-year-old girl goes berry picking and is found murdered. The narrator, Ann Flood, effectively connects these two mysteries. The appeal factors of this novel are realistic and well-drawn characters.

AGLibrary Mar 24, 2012

Good book

Mar 19, 2012

I agree with much of what has already been said, in terms of the main character. She was the weakest link in the book. I had no desire to read about her, and instead would have preferred the book to focus on her aunt and the main people in her aunt's life.

While the first half of the book was very interesting, I found towards the end that the story became very disjointed and meandered all over the place.

All in all I was disappointed with this book. Hay's previous book was much better. I would not recommend anyone read this.

Dec 21, 2011

The second book I've read of Hay's, after Late Nights on Air (which was superb).

Like other readers, I found the narrator's story to be much less interesting than those of Connie, Parley and Michael, and didn't much like Anne anyway. Or at least I found her/the affair storyline to be selfish and stupid/implausible, respectively. As a result, that part of the story felt a little clunky and messy, detracting from the stories of Connie et al, and my reading experience overall.

Dec 07, 2011

Not my favorite from EH. Too many story lines, and in the end I couldn't care less about the main plot. The sub-plots definitely shone brighter for me than the main character, who was boring and self-centered.

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Aug 07, 2011

Bought this as my first Kobo ebook purchase. Liked the first part but thought the novel should have ended about 3/4 of the way along. Good writing and description of the prairie landscape. 7/10

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