Monday 30 March 2009

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris

Pages 512
Publisher - Doubleday
Challenges - Chunkster, 100+, A to Z Titles.

Just by looking at the cover of this book, I really thought I was going to have to read an Inspector Morse type book, which has never appealed to me. I imagined an old Etonian type school, with all the teaching staff of the old style teaching, in cap and gowns, floating around beautiful grounds whilst students wore straw hats and striped jackets, casually putting the world to rights.
Well I definitely got the Etonian style school and the cap and gown teachers, but that is where the resemblance ends. This book was full of unexpected twists and turns, where I thought I knew what would happen next, only to be blown away by another cliff hangar.
The book is set in Oswalds, where the main narrator's father has taken a job and home as a school porter. From the start, this child hates the school, because they know they will never be able to attend. The book jumps backwards and forwards between the child's memories and the present day, where Straightly, a very old school teacher struggles with the changes occurring in the school. Straightly is convinced someone is bringing the school down and eventually is the only one to realise who it is. He is on the case of the Mole who starts with cruel practical jokes to upset the staff, leading to murder. You think from the beginning, you know who the culprit is, alas you will most certainly be wrong in your assumption.
The plot is mammoth and action packed, the book explodes in dramatic turns all the way through. Even though it was over five hundred words, I struggled to put the book down. I was constantly eager to find out what happened next.
You cannot help but feel for Straightly, who is struggling with all the new expectations of him. He is nearing retirement age and feels uncomfortable with all the younger staff coming in.
I am not going to give you too much of the plot, because it would really spoil it. I am so glad no one told me beforehand. From other reviews I have read on this book, the reviewers were sworn to secrecy, not to spoil the plot.
I found it strange that Joanne Harris wrote completely from the male perspective, which I find is a strange thing for a female writer to do. However, Joanne Harris does it with style. With every book of hers I read, I love her writing more. I am desperate to read another one soon.
It is quite obvious from reading the book that Joanne has teaching experience as there are a lot of references to things only a teacher would recall. It was nice to spend some time back in the school environment.
Joanne mentioned on her website, about how with each book release she causes a riot,because each book is different from the last, but that is what I love about her books. I never know what to expect with each one I read, they all deal with completely different subjects.
If you are a Joanne Harris fan, I would definitely recommend this book. If you are not, then I would still recommend it. I wouldn't tell you to read a specific Joanne Harris book first, as they are all so different. If you want a writer that will take you on a mystery tour, then hitch a ride on this bus, because you will be thrilled all the way.
Thanks for stopping by.


  1. I adored her Chocolat but I never got around to reading anything else she's written. This sounds like a great one! Good review :)

  2. i've never heard of this author...but the story sounds really good. as an educator, i can only relate too easily with life in the classroom. thanks for a well-detailed and interesting review!

  3. great review, I did read Chocolat but wasnt too impressed with that one.

  4. Thanks for the review, Viv! I have this in my TBR along with her other books. I'll have to check it out later. :)

  5. This was one of my favourite books of 2008. The only book I'd read by her until I read her YA fantasy novel, Runemarks, a few weeks ago. If you haven't read it I would recommend that too. It's a departure for her and not your run-of-the-mill fantasy book.


Hiya, thanks for stopping by, it is always nice to hear what you have to say, so do leave a comment if you have time.