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Gentlemen and Players: A Novel (P.S.)by Joanne Harris
Synopses & Reviews
For generations, privileged young men have attended St. Oswald's Grammar School for Boys, groomed for success by the likes of Roy Straitley, the eccentric Classics teacher who has been a fixture there for more than thirty years.
This year, however, the wind of unwelcome change is blowing, and Straitley is finally, reluctantly, contemplating retirement. As the new term gets under way, a number of incidents befall students and faculty alike, beginning as small annoyances but soon escalating in both number and consequence. St. Oswald's is unraveling, and only Straitley stands in the way of its ruin. But he faces a formidable opponent with a bitter grudge and a master strategy that has been meticulously planned to the final, deadly move.
"Bestseller Harris (Holy Fools) exposes the brittle line dividing the haves and have-nots in this disturbing yet strangely rewarding morality tale set in the hallowed halls of St. Oswald's, an aristocratic British boys' school hovering on the edge of extinction. Audere, agere, auferre (To dare, to strive, to conquer), the school motto, is something young outsider Snyde, whose father has become St. Oswald's porter (or caretaker), takes painfully to heart after infiltrating the institution as a student under the alias 'Julian Pinchbeck.' Snyde's secret crush on Leon Mitchell, a charismatic upper-class boy, leads to tragic consequences that include the senior Snyde's losing his job. Fifteen years later, Snyde returns, masquerading as a teacher and plotting retribution. Classics teacher Roy Straitley, with his easygoing, ruefully resigned viewpoint, nicely contrasts with Snyde's relentless first-person intensity. Straitley, who loves St. Oswald's, unwittingly proves to be a formidable opponent and provides Snyde with a vital lesson: not every chess game ends with checkmate. Agent, Howard Morhaim. 5-city author tour. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"For readers who fancy an intricate mystery and story line that also touches on anti-Semitism and vicious intra-faculty politics, with expertly sketched heroes, buffoons and rogues to match, Gentlemen and Players will tease the mind and touch one's soul." Rocky Mountain News
"Constantly surprising and wickedly fun....Beyond the book's considerable entertainment value, Harris has written an unsettling reminder of how much our orderly lives depend on a fragile level of trust." Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"[M]oves skillfully between the two perspectives and between past and present in a well-crafted mystery. Harris shows a deep understanding of the politics of academia and the routine of the classroom, as well as the demands of a solid mystery." Library Journal
"[A]n atypical thriller. Rather than suspense, dramatic irony drives the plot; and two participants, both a little unreliable, tell the story. It's a lot for one novel to do, and Harris isn't quite able to force all the pieces into place." San Francisco Chronicle
"The problem with giving Snyde a narrative soapbox is that the more the reader knows about this character, the less plausible this character becomes. A daring gambit, poorly played." Kirkus Reviews
"Harris shows what a master storyteller she is through the play and counterplay of current happenings twisting through the telling of what went on before. The story builds suspensefully and cleverly with surprises and turns to a satisfying denouement." School Library Journal
Friendship, murder, revenge, and class conflict collide in an upper-crust English school. As a new term gets under way, a number of annoying incidents befall students and faculty, escalating to murder.
About the Author
Joanne Harris is the author of seven previous novels — Chocolat, Blackberry Wine, Five Quarters of the Orange, Coastliners, Holy Fools, Sleep, Pale Sister, and Gentlemen & Players; a short story collection, Jigs & Reels; and two cookbook/memoirs, My French Kitchen and The French Market. Half French and half British, she lives in England.
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