- 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 (141 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,445,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Gentlemen and Players Paperback – 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
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!
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I almost gave up finishing this book as the central character was so malicious and vengeful and vindictive but Harris writes well so despite feeling uncomfortable about the Iago... Read morePublished 16 days ago by Julie Brown
Marvelous! Deep and layered, a rich engaging mystery to gorge upon.Published 26 days ago by E. Gray
Slow start that eventually will hook you. Hang on for a twist you will never see coming! (My only quibble is the author's heavy-handed, hit-over-the-head symbolism of everyone's... Read morePublished 29 days ago by Eric Brown
Great mystery but a lot of characters so it wasn't an easy, light read. Very well written, though. Would highly recommend it.Published 2 months ago by SueF
Great ending I never saw it congrats ! A real look at the Brits and the schools for the haves and have notsPublished 2 months ago by DeeDee
Beautifully written! One of the best novels I've read! The use of language is superb where the reader leaves with a better vocabulary list and desire to learn languages. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book is WORK to read. There were moments when I wanted to give up, but because it was a bookclub selection, I kept on. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Wynreader
Great book. It is a thriller of some sort, but not scary. Even a bit boring half way through. But with such an amazing end. Never in a million years did I guess. So, yes. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Hilde
Brilliant book! It tells two mystery stories (one in flashback) that tie together in a surprising climaxPublished 10 months ago by David Zachary Dewoody