Weatherhill, a pubic school set high on a hill top in Buckinghamshire is the setting for this appealing story which follows the lives of students and staff alike over a year in the early 1960s. The school has been waning over recent years and it is hoped by the school governors that the appointment of a new Head will rectify the problem. However change is not so welcome neither among the well established staff, nor the relatively passive students; especially when it comes to a purging of those who are deemed to have become involved romantically with one another, boys with boys.
The story concentrates on a few fairly eccentric mostly unmarried members of staff, and an equally small group of boys. There is Rowles the long established Deputy Head who avoids emotional involvement; Jimmy the out of place games master who is on first name terms with the boys; Ashley the insular and slightly bitter young English master who has never quite got over his failed love with another boy when he was a student; and the flamboyant and outspoken aging chaplain; and of course Crabtree, the insensitive new Headmaster and his interfering wife and obnoxious daughter.
Among the students: Steel the creep of a Head Boy; senior prefect Terrance Carleton the handsome but shy outstanding all-rounder; and Allen the beautiful younger boy who falls for Carleton.
The story follows the interaction of these and a several other characters; touching on staff politics; the new Head's investigations; the love interests among the boys. Featuring prominently is the relationship between English master Ashley and Carleton; and Carleton's relationship with the younger Allen, where we see a number of parallels. The two boys fall deeply and touchingly in love, but agree to maintain a chaste relationship.
The writing is intelligent, and the reader needs to be alert. I did find it initially uninvolving, perhaps because it is at first unclear who amongst the numerous characters is going to take centre stage. But then I suddenly found myself absorbed in the events, especially when it came to the cricket match; the writing conveying very well the excitement of the match (and I am not a lover of the game!). Carleton is a very appealing rather naïve boy and one's heart aches for him. Altogether it is a most engaging story, at times funny, with an outcome that is at the same time tragic, poignant and yet very positive