When I was talking about my reading struggles a little while ago many of you stopped by to offer recommendations to get me kick started again - thank you so much! One of the recommendations was from Steph who suggested Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris as a book that had kept her turning the pages earlier this year. I have read most of Joanne Harris' other books and have loved every one of them. I think I had stayed away from Gentlemen and Players in the past because I thought its subject matter seemed so far removed from her other books (Joanne Harris even makes a comment about this on her website) that I might not enjoy it as much. So, I have to send a big thank you to Steph for steering me in the direction of this book because it was fantastic! I feel like I am moving out of my reading slump now!
The book is set in St Oswald's, an old boys grammar school in northern England - full of history, convention and secrets. The narration swaps between present time within the school and events of 15 years before that have set in motion what is about to happen in the present time.
I am finding it difficult to think of ways to describe and review the book without giving away its wonderful structure and techniques - which I think you have to read for yourself as opposed to hearing about in order to fully enjoy the magic. I was completely absorbed by this book - a real page turner! Harris builds the suspense wonderfully - I didn't want the book to end but at the same time I didn't want to stop reading.
Although I haven't ever been a student at an old English boys school (being a female and an Australian hasn't helped!) I can imagine this setting so well. Joanne Harris is herself an ex-teacher and I think that this fact has obviously helped her to create a setting that feels so honest and authentic.
I definitely recommend this book - and am now on the look out for my next great read!