Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne HarrisA novel of betrayal, murder and false identity, set in the imposing halls of St. Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys. The book’s point of view alternates between Roy Straitley -starting his 100th term teaching Latin at the school, and the “pawn” -a newly hired teacher with a vendetta against St. Oswald’s. We learn about the pawn’s past, as a child of the school porter, borrowing the master keys and masquerading as a rich student. In the present, we watch as the pawn sets about bringing scandal to the school and Roy Straitley struggles to discover the identity of the interloper.

What the Armchair Critics Thought:
Very entertaining and suspenseful book with a great ending full of twists and turns. We enjoyed the use of the chess metaphor in the chapter headings and the names of the characters (Knight, King, Pawn). We found the character of stubborn Roy Straitley quite endearing, with his favourite chair, refusal to use e-mail, and one-man war to keep the Classics Department alive. We were interested to learn that the observations of the teaching profession and some descriptions of St. Oswald’s were based on the author’s experiences. Oh, and “podex” means “ass”!

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