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.
'Her pages ... blurred in my tears ... should be read carefully in order to appreciate its richness and its author's genius as a storyteller' Bookgroupinfo. — Bookgroupinfo
'one to savour' BookOxygen. — BookOxygen
'An ambitious vision and unusually literary page-turner' Calgary Herald. — Calgary Herald
'A testament to the quality of Hay's writing that the lack of a traditional ending tantalises ... Principal Parley Burns, who moves through the school 'like mustard gas in subtle form', is one of the most memorable villains I've ever encountered' Guardian. — Guardian
'a story of murder and obsessive love in prairie Canada, and better even than Alice Munro' Nicholas Shakespeare. — Nicholas Shakespeare
'unforgettable' The Literary Review. — Literary Review
'Highly accomplished and resourceful writer' The Spectator. — Spectator
'Alone in the Classroom is meant to be read slowly, or even better, read twice' Aritha van Herk, Toronto Globe & Mail. — Toronto Globe & Mail
'beautifully written ... an atmospheric, haunting novel that explores the impact of past events on a new generation' We Love This Book. — We Love This Book