Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Gentlemen and Players - Joanne Harris

St Oswalds, an old, feepaying boys only Grammar school (day attendance only, no boarders) which has a good reputation, and some interesting characters on the teaching staff.  Roy Straightly (who narrates about half of the tale) is coming up to 65,  teaches Latin, and is a thorn in the flesh of the headmaster who considers that Latin is truly a subject of the past.  Straightly is an old fashioned type of public school master, one of the few to wear his robe on a daily basis, and who quotes in Latin, and has little Latin jokes in his conversations.  It is not long before you begin to wonder if you truly like him.....
There is another narrator too - the child of the school porter,  who longs to attend St Oswalds - and manages to do just that by mitching off from the local comprehensive and changing into St Oswalds' uniform to blend seamlessly into St Oswalds' school life.  And as you read you begin to wonder if you like this character either! 
Stick with the alternating narrators, go with the flow, but as they used to say at my school "concentrate"!  The twists and turns as they come are marvellously conceived and should leave you mentally gasping!  There are also some nice litle jokes in characters'  names...... A brilliant concept, and how lovely to read a truly English thriller.