Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
You know, I was initially a little skeptical about this book. I mean, I love Joanne Harris' Chocolat, and I've read her other work, but this one sounded a bit...different. I mean, mayhem and grudges at a stuffy British boys school? Really?
And yet, I got totally sucked into this novel, and couldn't wait to find out what would happen next - what a lovely surprise!
Told is alternating voices, this is the story of St. Oswald's - first from the point of view of eccentric Classics teacher Roy Straitley, and then from the point of view of Snyde, a student from a different school who slowly infiltrates the world of St. Oswald's...with disastrous results. This is a wonderfully told story of the "haves" and the "have nots".
This is a beautifully written, really entrancing novel with such great characterization - I so looked forward to every word uttered by Straitley, and couldn't figure out WHAT the twist was going to be, and boy, was there a twist! This is just great storytelling...
This is a fantastic read - highly recommended!
(By the way, I had to find out the origin of the title - it's based on English first-class cricket from before World War II, when those who paid without pay were "gentlemen" and those with pay were "players". What an apropos title.)
I listened to the audio edition, narrated by Steven Pacey. Pacey had several characters to differentiate, and did a superb job with different voices and pacing. A really enjoyable listen!