I do like reading bestsellers, and ‘Different Class’ by Joanne Harris is usually ranked quite high on Amazon.
Apparently the author taught French at a boys’ school. I don’t know if this school was a state school or a private one, but Ms Harris describes the staff of St. Oswald’s private school very well. There is Roy Straitley, dyed-in-the-wool Latin master of 30 years, and Harry Clarke, bohemian free spirit and friend of the boys to name but two. When Johnny Harrington, the new headmaster, arrives at St. Oswald’s, Roy realises he taught him years before and didn’t like him then. Now Harrington is full of new ideas that do not appeal to Roy Straitley. Over a period of time, Roy starts to wonder whether there is a conspiracy to edge him out.
There are the usual secrets between the boys just bubbling below the surface for the reader to try and discover. There is even a murder or two for our delectation. However, the book is long and rambling (over 400 pages). It meanders along and is very slow to reach a conclusion. Boys are given nicknames of animals which I found quite confusing, and the story zig-zags back and forth from the past to the present. There are also quite a lot of Latin phrases dotted about throughout the whole book, which I, not having had a classical education, found irritating as I had to keep finding out what they meant in English.
On the whole I was rather disappointed with this book. Actually I couldn’t even finish it as after reading 80% of it I’m afraid I just couldn’t concentrate on it anymore. That doesn’t mean it was badly written; it wasn’t. The author writes intelligently and obviously had the classical education that I have not. It’s just that the book was over-long and didn’t hold my interest. I’m going to give it three stars, as the original plot was well thought out, it’s just that the author took a rather long-winded route to get to the conclusion.
One day I may even go back and finish the story!