cover image Mrs. S

Mrs. S

K. Patrick. Europa, $18 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-60945-840-9

An Australian immigrant navigates an English boarding school in Patrick’s revelatory debut. The narrator is there to serve as “the Matron,” the only name given to her in the novel. Between classes, she steals glances at Mrs. S, the headmaster’s ravishing wife and a model of assured elegance. In the aftermath of a fight between a student and a visitor, members of the administration attempt damage control, providing an opportunity for the Matron and Mrs. S to spend more time together. Over the course of their work, they embark on a secret and torrid love affair despite their class differences. “Such things,” the narrator thinks, “the heart cannot help but translate.” As the school deals with a potential scandal involving underage drinking, the narrator’s season of bliss is imperiled by Mrs. S’s need to keep up appearances, prompting the narrator to vow, “I will become whatever she wants.” Patrick makes palpable the compromises required by secret love, and though the romance is aching and well crafted, what emerges above all is a fascinating character portrait, that of a woman obscure to the world but radiant inside. Patrick wrings the exotic world of privilege for all that it’s worth. (June)