Gentlemen & Players ペーパーバック – 2006/6/5
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At St Oswald's, a long-established boys' grammar school in the north of England, a new year has just begun. For the staff and boys of the school, a wind of unwelcome change is blowing. Suits, paperwork and Information Technology rule the world; and Roy Straitley, the eccentric veteran Latin master, is finally - reluctantly - contemplating retirement.
But beneath the little rivalries, petty disputes and everyday crises of the school, a darker undercurrent stirs. And a bitter grudge, hidden and carefully nurtured for thirteen years, is about to erupt.
"[A] gripping psychological thriller... Harris is one of our most accomplished novelists and Gentlemen & Players, with its pace, wit and acute observation, shows her at the top of her form" (DAILY EXPRESS)
"[A] delicious black comedy ... the plot is so cleverly constructed, the tension so unflagging, you'd think she'd been writing thrillers all her life" (DAILY MAIL)
"With a lightness of touch, Harris illuminates just how resentment of privilege and exclusion can lead to violent resolutions... Marvellously mischievous" (GOOD HOUSEKEEPING)
"[A] clever story of obsession and revenge... Ms Harris has scored another success" (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)
"A classic whodunnit with the characters carefully crafted and the tension at a knife edge" (SUNDAY EXPRESS (TOP TEN FICTION 2005))
There are two main characters at the center of the drama, the peculiar teacher, Roy Straitley, and the devious engineer of the skullduggery, an undisclosed deviant with an evil heart and ingenious brain whose identity is cleverly masked. I’ll admit to falling victim to the author’s smoke and mirrors.
St. Oswald’s is an English school for privileged boys with decades of sniffy tradition. Straitley has been there for over thirty years and reluctantly thinking about retirement. He’s respected, if not well liked by the administration, and he sees the writing on the wall as his duties are slowly being downgraded. As this year starts, five new faculty members join the ranks, one of whom has destructive motives that are manifested in incidents that start small -- personal items disappear, rumors start circulating, dissention spreads like a syrupy spill—until a full blown scandal erupts that threatens to destroy the school. Murder eventually enters the scheme, turning the insipid into something more deadly.
Joanne Harris is a prolific and award-winning English author best known for her novel “Chocolat.” Many of her recurrent themes of identity conflict, parent/child relationship, fright of common things, the outsider, and superstition are present here, along with her cleverly applied humor and complex characterizations. Her writing is tight, her plotting is clever, and her characters are well developed. It’s a suspense novel that keeps the reader guessing and entertained as the plot unrolls. I highly recommend this book.
Schuyler T Wallace
Author of TIN LIZARD TALES
This is a story set in England at a boys school, St. Oswalds. Readers will travel through the events in two points-of-view: 1) The child of the Porter of the school. This child feels left out and very jealous of the privileged life of the boys at St. Oswalds. 2) A long-time Master or teacher whose speciality is the Classics. He teaches Latin to reluctant 13-year-olds.
The story is set in real time, but it feels old. Reminders of our time come out with the mention of pop music, books or events. But, mostly I felt as if I was reading during about a time in the early to mid 20th Century. Why? Because St. Oswalds doesn't change with time.
The school experiences scandals which the author uncovers bit by bit. These scandals affect the Porter and his child. But, we don't find out the extent of them until later in the book. We also know that murder has either happened or will happen. That keeps us on the edge of our seats. Who will die? Why?
Even though the author does not disclose whose point of view the reader is in at the beginning of the chapters, the voice of each person is so strong, that the reader quickly figures it out. There is no question that the Porter has sired a sociopath and this sociopath has it in for St. Oswalds.
What an amazing read. Very real. I have to wonder of Joanne Harris actually worked in a boy's school. Just saying...
Enjoy! This is a book you will regret when its over. You'll want more.
Despite the grim topic, the book has a lot of humour, too, as seen in the ruminations of Roy Straitley, the oldest master at St. Oswald's. Like most teachers who've spent a few years in the classroom, Roy has pretty much seen it all and remained sane despite pointless faculty meetings and small-minded administrators. He's an old-fashioned teacher who prefers chalk and blackboards to whiteboards, refuses to use e-mail, and does not want to become an administrator. Roy cares about the students as well as about the subject he teaches (Latin), despite a student in the current crop having written that he is a "podex" on a desk in his classroom. Will Roy become one of the killer's victims or will Roy be able to stop the killer first?