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Gentlemen & Players [Paperback]

Joanne Harris
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

5 Jun 2006

At St Oswald's, a long-established boys' grammar school in the north of England, a new year has just begun. For the staff and boys of the school, a wind of unwelcome change is blowing. Suits, paperwork and Information Technology rule the world; and Roy Straitley, the eccentric veteran Latin master, is finally - reluctantly - contemplating retirement.

But beneath the little rivalries, petty disputes and everyday crises of the school, a darker undercurrent stirs. And a bitter grudge, hidden and carefully nurtured for thirteen years, is about to erupt.

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Gentlemen & Players + The Lollipop Shoes (Chocolat 2) + Five Quarters Of The Orange
Price For All Three: £16.77

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (5 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552770027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552770026
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joanne Harris is the author of the Whitbread-shortlisted Chocolat (made into an Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp) and many other bestselling novels. Her hobbies are listed in Who's Who as 'mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion'. She plays bass guitar in a band first formed when she was 16, is currently studying Old Norse, and lives with her husband and daughter in Yorkshire, about 15 miles from the place she was born

Photography © Takazumi Uemura

Product Description


"[A] gripping psychological thriller... Harris is one of our most accomplished novelists and Gentlemen & Players, with its pace, wit and acute observation, shows her at the top of her form" (DAILY EXPRESS)

"[A] delicious black comedy ... the plot is so cleverly constructed, the tension so unflagging, you'd think she'd been writing thrillers all her life" (DAILY MAIL)

"With a lightness of touch, Harris illuminates just how resentment of privilege and exclusion can lead to violent resolutions... Marvellously mischievous" (GOOD HOUSEKEEPING)

"[A] clever story of obsession and revenge... Ms Harris has scored another success" (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

"A classic whodunnit with the characters carefully crafted and the tension at a knife edge" (SUNDAY EXPRESS (TOP TEN FICTION 2005))

Book Description

The eagerly awaited new novel from the bestselling author of CHOCOLAT

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
93 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Back to her best 10 Oct 2005
I must admit to being a little disillusioned by Joanne Harris' past few offerings. Holy Fools, Jigs and Reels and Sleep Pale Sister have failed to grab me in the way her food trilogy and Coastliners did. It was therefore with some trepidation that I began her new novel, "Gentlemen and players" I confess to having a preconception that like many of her other books this was likely to be a good read and enjoyable enough, but not likely to blow my socks off as Chocolat, Blackberry wine, Coastliners and the superb Five Quarters have. So I settled down to read this latest offering and I was hooked.
The story is a basic one. A nameless narrator starts off the book with their father living in the porters cabin at an esxclusive grammar school, "St Oswalds". After this first chapter however we learn that a decade and a half has passed since the opening chapter and our narrator has secured a job at St Oswalds and intends to destroy it. This story is intertwined with than of eccentric latin master Roy Straightley who is slowly being undermined and encouraged into retirement. Asd the story progresses scandals start to hit St Oswalds by way of a mysterious figure known simply as Mole (Our nameless narrator). As the scandals increase and even murder strikes St Oswalds the ancient school begins to crumble. This is when Straightley finally realises who Mole is, but can he stop another murder?
This is without doubt the best techincally written book Joanne has produced. She builds up through her dual narrative a crescendo of feeling and emotion. One cannot help to feel intreagued as to what will happen to St Oswalds will it fall and be lost forever or can Straightley avert the disaster. The ending is sublime and wil leave you physically breathless as the exciting denouement closes in.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Gentlemen and Players is a wonderful book which convinced me that nobody does plots, intrigues and denouements better than Joanne Harris. On the face of it, this is a straightforward story, of the jealous son of a pirvate school caretaker, who infiltrates himself into the school by stealing bits of uniform and surruptiously taking part in sports and games, and later lessons. However, this turns out to be a tale of high drama, as a number of years later, the school suffers various calamities which threaten its very existence.

The characters are very well drawn - Roy Straitley, the aging classics master is perhaps the key character and so much of the story revolves around his slightly embittered and cynical personality. Roy has seen it all before, and yet events take even him by surprise and he turns out to be a key player in the unfolding drama. But all the characterisations are strong, and several weeks after reading the book, I find it easy to remember the parts played by the various "gentlemen and players".

This is a "mystery" book - at its core is a complex story with an unpredictable ending. I recommend this book to anyone who likes a great story, and the feeling of being so absorbed in a book that you want to go on reading it at a single sitting.
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73 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book! I couldn't put it down! 2 April 2006
I was recommended this book by my wife who has read all of her books! Eventually I took up the challenge and was completely absorbed by the brilliant characters! The book is written from a dual narrative perspective and manages to switch from one to the other without losing the thread - it is a real testament to the quality of the writing that I was desperate to find out what was going to happen from both narrative views. Add to this the fact that the book has unexpected developments that hit you at precisely the right time and have you thumbing back through what you've read for clues. I read this book incredibly quickly and am still thinking about the way it all panned out.
In short this is an incredibly good book, very readable and keeps your interest at every page. It has a wry humour despite some extremely dark human behaviour!
I would recommend this book to anyone. I enjoyed it so much even though it made my wife extremely smug to be proved right! I now want to read her other books - apparently one is written from the perspective of a bottle of wine!! If she can pull that off then she is, indeed, an exceptionally talented writer!
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Check mate 29 Nov 2005
The excellent Joanne Harris gave us ‘Chocolat’ cravings, intoxicated us with ‘Blackberry Wine’, entwined history and betrayal in ‘Five Quarters of the Orange’ and continued to enthral us with themes of magic and love in ‘Holy Fools’. Anyone who has read her earlier novel ‘Sleep, Pale Sister’ will be fully aware of Harris’s ability to write a very dark tale.
The new novel ‘Gentlemen and Players’ is another spellbinding offering, with a real twist (throughout the book I knew there was a twist coming but I was still startled by its simplicity and brilliance).
Harris’s earlier work are characterised by evocative description, sensual themes and magical overtones, while ‘Gentlemen and Players’ is written in a more “factual”, drier manner, which reflects the fact that it is told in part from teachers' perspectives. It is a brilliant read and the ending does not disappoint. The presentation of the chapters under the titles of chess pieces is a very nice touch. I highly recommend this and Harris’s earlier books.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars superb story line
This book is very different from the other Joanne Harris books, but by far my favourite. The story has lots of twists and makes you want more. Read more
Published 27 days ago by the skeltons
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing plot
An intriguing plot, producing several interesting twists. The engaging, often elegant, prose keeps your attention throughout, and your sympathy is drawn for the main characters. Read more
Published 2 months ago by N. Ford
3.0 out of 5 stars Loved the previous Chocolat books
Was rather disappointed with this one, as it was such a long time ago that I had read the other 'Chocolat' books it took me awhile to remember and co-ordinate the background.
Published 5 months ago by Mrs. Shirley O. Nicholas
2.0 out of 5 stars Had to force myself to finish it
After reading the great reviews on Amazon, I was looking forward to starting this book. But, 100 pages in and I still wasn't gripped... 200 pages.. 300. Read more
Published 5 months ago by SarahJane
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-crafted story
I re-started this after the first attempt failed to hold my interest but I am glad I did. Although clunky at times due to the different voices of the two main characters, the story... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Le Feutre
5.0 out of 5 stars a fantastic read
I really enjoyed this book. Without giving too much away, the ending was a real surprise which I didn't expect. I would encourage people to read it.
Published 9 months ago by speedy31
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an exceptional book
Imagine a darker Tom Sharpe Porterhouse Blue mixed in with a mystery whodunnit along with Patricia Highsmith's Ripley then you will only begin to imagine the pleasure to be found... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mr. I. F. Blythe
4.0 out of 5 stars My first Joanne Harris - a very good read
I recommend this book if you want a good, solid, entertaining and engaging read. I'll definitely be reading more of her work.

Why only 4 stars? Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mark
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good read
Joanna Harris at her best. Intriguing story of revenge, based in boys' private school, exposing all its internal politics and scandals. Read more
Published 9 months ago by The Linguaphile
4.0 out of 5 stars mix up
I enjoyed this book but I did become a bit mixed up to who was actually "speaking". At one time I felt Roy was the young boy who was now a teacher but then another time... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mrs. C. Beavers
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