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The teacher that changed your life. The one who brought those old dead words on the page suddenly to life. The charmer, the inspirer, the cajoler, the bearer of all wisdom. Professor John Scattergood is all these things, but most of all he's a liar. Scattergood's lectures on the Medieval Romances are always oversubscribed. Rumors of a tragic affair in his youth only add to the man's mystique. A master of wit, king of the turn of phrase, fountain of timely quotes and pop references. All the time Scattergood's purpose is clear: "not the making of intellects, the shaping of men." Brendan Hillard is the student teachers dream of. Chronically shy with a voracious appetite for knowledge, the brilliant boy has defied his working-class roots to end up at Dublin's prestigious Trinity College. At his very first lecture, with the famous Scattergood in full flight on the danger of love, Brendan encounters Miss Regan, a vivacious American student as sassy as he is shy. She invites him to her birthday party. She smiles. She touches his arm. What is that look in her eye? The boy needs advice and courage. He goes to the expert. "Women are pamphlets, an easy read." Scattergood becomes the boy's confidant and coach in a game of love and honor. A series of beautifully crafted letters reveal the depth of Miss Regan's attraction for Brendan. But there's a problem�"Lancelot's problem, Tristan's problem"�she has a boyfriend. What started out as a romantic comedy spirals to a tragic ending as Scattergood uses his own past as the spur to push the boy down a dark path of half-truth and self-delusion. In the end his ivory tower comes crumbling down under the weight of his own deceptions.