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Gentlemen and Players Paperback – 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: William Morrow (2006)
  • ISBN-10: 0739472941
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739472941
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,584,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanne Harris is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Blackberry Wine and Chocolat, which was nominated for the Whitbread Award, one of Britain's most prestigious literary prizes. Half French and half British, Harris lives in England.

Customer Reviews

The characters are typically well written.
S. Cornforth
I have to say that, while suspense is a different genre for Joanne Harris, her beautiful use of language and evocative storytelling, make her a master.
E. Stanclift
There are several very startling twists and turns that will keep you gasping.
Armchair Interviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 91 people found the following review helpful By David W. Straight on January 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
First of all, for the cricket-ignorant, up until WW II in

English first-class cricket, the people who played the game

were classified as "gentlemen"--those who played the game

without pay--and "players"--the paid professionals. In the

box-score, a gentleman would appear as Mr Smith, and a

professional would appear as Jones. Separate dessing-rooms

were provided for the two groups. There was an annual match

Gentlemen vs Players. It was very rare that a team captain

would be a player: there was a significant gulf between the

leisure class and the working class.

The novel is about the child of the working-class man who did

the janitorial chores at St Oswald's School, an expensive

day school for sons of privilege. The child, now grown up,

forges documents to join the school as a new faculty member,

with the intention of destroying the institution from within.

So small unpleasant things begin to happen--and things get

worse with thefts and scandals. It's a game--but only the

player knows it--the gentlemen (which includes female faculty)

are puzzled and disconcerted. The other central figure is Roy

Straitley, classics master, now in his 34th year at St Oswald's.

Straitley is Old School, computer-ignorant, but shrewd enough

to finally realize that there is a game going on. The gentlemen

are accustomed to interacting with gentlemen (faculty and

students) at the school--they are at a great disadvantage

against a working-class person who doesn't play by the rules.

The sense of dichotomy is wonderfully drawn here--those of

privilege, and those who are not. There are fine lines of

snobbery. Gentlemen & Players has similar layers--depths and

nuances. An excellent read!
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47 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Tom S. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on February 5, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This clever novel has just been nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe award by the Mystery Writers of America, and it's easy to see why. St. Oswald's, an exclusive British boy's school, is the scene of a deadly contest between a dedicated old "Mr. Chips"-type teacher and a mysterious newcomer to the faculty. Each opponent tells the story in alternating chapters, and it soon becomes clear that the evil interloper has a beef with the place dating back to childhood. This new teacher is secretly waging an insidious campaign of terror against St. Oswald's, the clear intent being to bring the famous school down and close its doors forever. And only our hero--a fussy, eccentric, out-of-shape old-timer--can stop the tragedy, if he can find his anonymous adversary in time....

Harris (CHOCOLAT, FIVE QUARTERS OF THE ORANGE) hits the ground running with her first suspense novel, and it's as funny as it is bizarre, a truly black comedy. A former teacher in a Brit boys' school, Harris knows the institutions and their people very well. She has a marvelous way of describing everything, and her names for the characters are particularly Dickensian. The heroic teacher is named Straitley, the villain is named Snyde, and other teachers and students are appropriately named Meek, Strange, Knight, Bishop, Devine, Fallow, Brasenose, Shakeshafte, etc. She makes you feel that you're actually there, in the school, witnessing the "game." Highly recommended.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on January 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm reviewing the P.S. version of 'Gentlemen and Players' because it contains an insightful five-page 'On My Mind' piece by the Joanne Harris. Harris discusses her history as a teacher - 12 years teaching at a Boys' Grammar School in the UK. As the intro to that piece states, her teaching experience was "put to good use in the deeply atmospheric 'Gentlemen and Players.'"

Indeed.

I also have to make mention of the compelling cover of the P.S. release, design courtesy of Robin Bilardello. It makes this work fairly leap off the shelves and into your hands. It's what encouraged me to flip through the book in the store.

The book itself holds up well. The style taken on here by Ms. Harris - two competing narrators and a very well-concealed twist - is not one taken easily by an unskilled writer. She pulls it off very well. Harris is best known as the author of 'Chocolat' (basis of the movie of the same name). Reviews elsewhere call that her best work, while others put votes in for 'Five Quarters of the Orange.' 'Gentlemen and Players' was my introduction to her work. I came out very impressed and definitely a new fan of her work.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Roy E. Perry on January 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
"If there's one thing I've learned in the past fifteen years, it's this: that murder is really no big deal." So speaks the "pawn" in the opening sentence of Gentlemen & Players, a brilliant and suspenseful literary novel that reminds one of Donna Tartt's The Secret History, Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.

On page 333 of the novel, the pawn speaks again: "Just the place for a quiet murder, don't you think? The dark; the crowds; the confusion. So easy here to apply Poe's law--stating that the object that is hidden in plain sight remains unseen longest--and to simply walk away, leaving the body for some poor baffled soul to discover, or even to discover it myself, with a cry of alarm, relying upon the inevitable crowd to shield me from sight. . . . One more murder. I owe it to myself. Or maybe two."

St. Oswald's Grammar School for Boys in northern England is a posh institution that caters to the scions of the wealthy. With a long tradition of academic excellence, elitism, and snobbery, its stately campus looms as a forbidden zone for the underprivileged and poor: "No Trespassers. No Unauthorized Entry Beyond This Point." Trespassers will be prosecuted.

Laws are made to be broken. Every rule, order, and command gives birth to rebels who challenge the authoritative edicts of the status quo, to misfits who gleefully throw monkey wrenches into the machine. The "pawn" is one such outsider, who, fuming at the arbitrary line drawn between the haves and the have-not's, is determined to bring down this pretentious institution.

"These people are so easily blinded," muses the pawn. "Even greater than their stupidity, there's the arrogance, the certainty that no one would cross the line.
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