Rebecca's Reviews > Gentlemen and Players

Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris
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's review
Oct 07, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: gave-up-on

As Nancy Pearl says, life is too short to finish books you don't enjoy. I gave this one a fair chance, but I was unimpressed and saw no reason to continue. This book is supposed to be a thriller/suspense novel, but I found myself yawning with boredom through the first several chapters. We know very early on in the story that one of the narrators is planning on taking down a boy's grammar school from the inside by securing a teaching post there, with the goal of murdering someone out of revenge. Knowing that from the get-go, it felt like the rest of the novel was just going to be one monotonous series of flashbacks to explain why this narrator wanted to take down the school and murder somebody. But Harris was asking the reader to care about this scenario and find it "suspenseful" before we even knew why we should care about the school or the characters, much less why the whiny, unlikeable narrator wanted to murder somebody.

It's also supposed to have a twist ending, but I didn't even care enough about the characters (who, from what I read, are all unsympathetic) or the plot to wait and find out what the twist is. I think Tobias Wolff could have handled this kind of setting and plot a lot more skillfully and subtly, similar to what he did with Old School.

I really enjoyed one of Harris' other novels, Chocolat, but Gentlemen and Players proves that perhaps she ought to stay out of the suspense and mystery genre and stick to lighthearted romps through France.
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