After 30 years at St Oswald's Grammar in North Yorkshire, Latin master Roy Straitley has seen all kinds of boys come and go. Each class has its clowns, its rebels, its underdogs, its 'Brodie' boys who, whilst of course he doesn't have favourites, hold a special place in an old teacher's heart.
But every so often there's a boy who doesn't fit the mould. A troublemaker. A boy with hidden shadows inside. With insolvency and academic failure looming, a new broom has arrived at the venerable school, bringing PowerPoint, sharp suits and even sixth-form girls to the dusty corridors. But while Straitley does his sardonic best to resist this march to the future, a shadow from his past is stirring. A boy who even 20 years on haunts his teacher's dreams. A boy capable of bad things.
©2016 Joanne Harris (P)2016 Random House Audiobooks
Writer and audiobook reviewer.
I loved this! Skilfully drip-fed to reveal the darkness, two narrative voices tell this tale of apparently buried scandal at St Oswald's Grammar School in fictional Malbry. One is Roy Straitley old-school Latin teacher who peppers his account with Latin lines, fiercely loyal to the school and his special 'Brodie boys' which are his life; and Ziggy, a boy who spent only a short time at St Oswald's but whose evil seeps through everything that happened there from that time so many years ago. The audiobook voices are just right: Straitley's strictly moral, out-dated mind-set conveyed by Stephen Pacey, and Ziggy's deluded, frightening and evil manipulation conveyed in Ewan Goddard's much higher-pitched wheedling.
St Oswald's has been enveloped and almost destroyed by terrible events which are slowly revealed: the death of a pupil and the imprisonment of a much-loved member of staff. A Crisis Team is brought in to save the school - representing all the management speak and high tech business practices loathed by Straitley. But worst of all, the new Head-in-a-suit is Harrrington, an ex-pupil whom Straitley had always disliked and distrusted. The new management is all for moving forward, but Ziggy's narrative gradually reveals the truth behind all the hideous events at St Oswald's, ensuring that the past events, far from being forgotten, continue to fester and erupt into jealousy-fuelled violence involving an increasing circle of victims - or are they perpetrators?.
It's a very complex plot and to give more away would spoil the listening, but it is no coincidence that Operation Yewtree blew up whilst Joanne Harris was writing the book. Dark themes are explored. What do you really know about what goes on in the darkness of your friends' minds? How can the abuser and the victim become entangled and change roles? Can the church, therapy or Juries be relied on to produce the truth?
I began to wonder after a couple of hours listening, if the author would ever get down to the story but I persisted. However, I had to give up at the accounts of animals being tortured. Not an author I will return to.
Joanne Harris had me from the start with this one. The characters, especially Mr Straightly were so believable. Narrated superbly. I feel I know St Oswalds intimately. I didn't want it to end. More of this wonderful school drama please Ms Harris.
Everything that I loved about the first. Joanne Harris has a great ability to keep her characters engaging and the storyline flows with complete ease.
I cannot compare really, as the title says a Different Class. Unlike many other crime novels, this one did not suddenly jump to an unbelievable conclusion to wrap it up. Well done Ms Harris
I adore Steven Pacey's narrations and will read anything by him, at first I was a bit concerned about Ewan Goddard's but he actually did a really good job, and I thought the combination of them both worked well.
No, because that would be a spoiler. Audible think of a better question than this
I was moved when it finished as I wanted to listen to more
Love love love. Brilliantly written, superb narration, great story. I do hope we get to hear from the Latin Master again............and soon
The description of the characters personality all entirely believable
The story invokes all of the emotions
The narrators both brilliantly portrayed the strengths and weaknesses of the characters
There were many moments all relating to the main charachter
Would have loved this to go on and on
The narration of this book was very good and the story was nearly as good as Gentlemen & Players, of which it is the sequel.
"Fantastic twist and turns!"
I loved listening to this brilliant book. Full marks for narration and twisty suspense! Sublime.
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