Different Class by Joanne Harris

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Different Class by Joanne Harris

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Category: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: Roy Straitley was anticipating retirement in the way that all vocational teachers anticipate leaving the profession they strive in every day: with a pinch of excitement and a hearty dollop of reluctance. What will he do without his beloved St. Oswald's and his Brodie Boys? And so Roy Straitley, Classics Master, is persuaded to stay for just one more year… And happily so, until he meets the new Head Master, Harrington, who turns out to have been a boy that Straitley taught back in the 80s. A boy that caused such a riotous scandal at the time and yet who somehow managed to escape unscathed. Does Harrington remember his old Classics Master fondly? Well, you'll have to read on and find out.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: April 2016
Publisher: Doubleday
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0385619233

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St Oswald's Grammar School For Boys is in crisis. A murdered schoolboy, a procession of new Head Masters, a(nother) new Head Master, a Crisis Intervention Team and a potential merger with St Oswald's all female counterpart, Mulberry House. Roy Straitley is not altogether dismayed at the prospect of delaying his retirement; St Oswald's has been his life, man and boy and a crisis is a crisis after all is said and done, isn't it? It's probably his duty to stay and help right the ship. So when the latest of the new Head Masters and his duo of crisis managers walk into the staff room, Straitley can't quite believe his old eyes. The new Head is an ex-pupil of St Oswald's; a boy who, in his time at the esteemed old School caused such an uproarious scandal that one of the Masters ended up in prison! At the time, this boy, this Harrington creature, slipped away quite unscathed by the furore he quite literally left in his wake and now here he stands, addressing the staff of his old alma mater, using the kind of PR buzzwords that make Roy Straitley's hair stand on end, as if nothing had ever happened. As if this demon child had not been the cause of the kind of disgrace and ignominy that had almost closed the school.

Does a leopard really change his spots? Roy Straitley doesn't think so and as the corrosive nature of suspicion takes hold, he is going to have to be on his guard lest he ends up going the way of the last Master that Harrington took a dislike to. Will St Oswald's come out the other side, or will Harrington dismantle the place, Master by Master, smiling as he goes?

Joanne Harris has quite the knack of hooking you, line and sinker, into the weft of her plot. A stunning start, a thick plot with twists and turns and out loud oh-my-goodness moments a plenty, Different Class will knock you for six – in the best way possible. When I had finished reading it, I immediately began researching the other Malbry Village novels because Different Class doesn't just aptly describe the social structure of a school like St Oswald's, it rather tells you what kind of league Joanne Harris is in, as a writer.

Her characters are quite simply brilliantly concocted – Harrington is loathesome in a Harry Potter/Tom Riddle kind of way; he seeps evil from every pore. Straitley is great. He is easy to envisage, understandable, relatable and his frustration with the New Order is so well fleshed, it almost jumps off the page. I can't give you any more because you must read this book and you must go out and get it today.

If you like the sound of Different Class, Joanne Harris has been a busy lady and we at Bookbag suggest you take a moment to read the blurb on her other Malbry tales, but definitely Blueeyed Boy and you should also take a look at Blackberry Wine because we loved both of them!

Our thanks go to the kind folks at Doubleday for sending this copy to Bookbag for review.

Booklists.jpg Different Class by Joanne Harris is in the Top Ten Literary Fiction Books of 2016.

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