Jennifer Johnson's Reviews > Gentlemen and Players

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
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May 25, 09

Read in August, 2007

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris is a complex novel. The story takes place at Oswald's School for Boys (fictional), a school steeped in tradition and values of an older generation. The school caters to the wealthy and elite and the students often find themselves at conflict with the other students of the local public school. At the start of a new teaching season, St. Oswalds finds itself slowing unravelling, being swallowed by scandals that get increasing more controversial. Can the school survive the scandals or will it slowly implode on itself?

The story is told from two perspectives; 1) from a teacher who has been at St. Oswalds for an incredibly long time and 2) from the person who has slowly planned their revenge on the school, and at the heart of the scandals. Each chapter flips between the two perspectives and as they flashback you slowly begin to understand why the person causing the troubles holds such a grudge against St. Oswalds. I will admit that this type of story telling is rather confusing, since both voices are similar and it sometimes takes some time in order to decipher who is speaking. I think the story would have been better served to let the reader in on some of the secrets earlier on. We're left too long wondering what exactly the grudge is and why it happens. By the time all is revealed, including the big plot twist, (which I will admit is GOOD), you're almost annoyed that you've gotten restless and just want to know what the heck is going on already!

Perhaps it's just a testament to my state of mind right now, but I didn't really enjoy this book. I couldn't really get into it and at times I was confused by the voices. I will admit that the final twist is interesting and once all is revealed you understand why the book needed to be every so slightly confusing, but still it wasn't so satisfying that it was worth the read. I'm giving this a rather blah 5/10, not for me, but maybe for someone else.
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