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Summary

Now I'm in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It's an incendiary moment for St Oswald's school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely 40, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered. 

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She'll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. 

After all...you can't keep a good woman down.

©2021 Joanne M Harris (P)2021 Orion Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"A dark world of emotional complexity and betrayal, where twist follows twist and nothing is what it seems. A masterful narrative voice, and a compulsive thriller from one of our greatest writers. I absolutely loved it." (Alex Michaelides, number one best-selling author of The Silent Patient)

"A psychological thriller you can't put down and an antiheroine you won't forget." (Harlan Coben)  

"A dark and richly enjoyable novel that already feels like a classic." (Elly Griffiths) 

"A dark world of emotional complexity and betrayal, where twist follows twist and nothing is what it seems." (Alex Michaelides)

What listeners say about A Narrow Door

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great unusual summer read.

I really liked this book. Stephen Pacey was excellent as always. I’m not sure about Alex Kingston, although as an actor I usually really like her. She was a bit overstated I felt and it irritated me. Also from experience public school children don’t usually have broad local accents which jarred with me a bit. I really liked the gender narrative which ran alongside the mystery. To me it was subtle enough to really mean something. The story with the mystery told over time in a way that mirrored the classical themes of the book was unusual and gripping. I’d definitely recommend it.

4 people found this helpful

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A school for Scndal

A School for Scandal

This is Joanne Harris’s 4th – and presumably final - crime thriller-novel set in St Oswald’s Grammar School in Yorkshire (I praised Diffrent Class on My Listener page on 9/5/16). It’s also a stand-alone novel which doesn’t require you to have read the previous ones.

After 20 years of struggle, ruthless and determined Rebecca (Bex) Buckfast has burst through the male gates of the now co-educational St Oswald Grammar School to become Headmaster (as the die-hard, gowned, Latin-quoting classics master Roy Straitley persists in calling her). Rebecca had been Rebecca Price (nicknamed Asda by the boys in her previous school) the sister pf Conrad Price who had gone missing from St Oswald's never to be seen again when she was only 5 and he was a teenager, allegedly a model pupil and prefect of great promise. Little Rebecca had gone to the school to wait for him to take her home, but he had never appeared. The truth emerges only at the very end; the rest of the story are the convoluted testimonies of Rebecca and Roy Straitley.

What gradually crawls out is a nest of vipers. Who do we believe? Who should we trust? Who is the man posing as Conrad who returns to dupe Rebecca’s parents out of their life savings? What are the scandals which shrouded St Oswald’s in the past? Was Conrad the best-ever son or the cruel taunter of his little sister? What was Rebecca’s childhood like growing up with parents deafened by their ‘tinnitus of grief’? Are Rebecca’s Caribbean husband and his close family over-cloying, even sinister? Why is Rebecca’s young daughter Emily plagued by night terrors and why is her imaginary friend called Conrad? Most important of all – is Rebecca an unreliable recorder of her own story?

It’s a gripping listen and a fiendishly twisting and clever plot, but I’ve given it 4, not 5 for two reasons. One is that some elements of plot are just that bit too far-fetched – Different Class didn’t fall into that trap. The other reason is Joanna Harris’s ‘gender narrative’ which is over-stressed. I became irritated by the over insistence on the superiority of women in so many unnecessary points in the story and the black picture of men. Such a heavy hand wasn’t necessary – I’d have got the message without the hammer blows of repetition. It would have been the more impressive had it been subtler.

The reading by the two narrators is excellent – fully nuanced with very effective dialogue including the internal dialogue.

1 person found this helpful

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FORSAN ET HAEC OLIM MEMINISSE IUVABIT

Terrific and gripping ending to a wonderful trilogy. Two perfectly matched and sympathetic adversaries fight for the soul of a school and for much more besides. There are so many surprising sub- plots, agreeable come-uppances, red herrings, witty one- liners and plausible motives for murder that I had two almost sleepless nights listening to this book in bed and dreaming about some of the action of the book. Read this trilogy!

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Brilliantly narrated

I was totally intrigued by this story couldn't wait to get to the finish

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Enjoyable mystery.

Enjoyed this, 1st time reading/listening to a Joanne Harris novel, quite a few twists

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A traumatic tale is unearthed when a body is discovered..

Once again we visit St Oswalds as it is dragged into the 21st century by a powerful new head. The Latin master detective Roy Straightly has a new case to solve with the help of his Brody‘boys’ when they discover a body in the grounds.
This time, Roy finds himself trapped as the mystery is unravelled. Can he escape to tell his story.?

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  • 25-08-21

Requiesce in pace Roy.

An excellent end to the St Oswalds saga. A brilliant production. Perfectly cast and superbly delivered.

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  • Ewa
  • 01-09-21

Great story, somewhat spoiled by performance

I absolutely love Joanne Harris's books, and maybe that was the challenge for me! usually, I cannot put them away until I finish, while this title took me a while to go through... I have to admit it may have been because I really struggled with the performance of the female narrator.
Still a great read!