Customer Reviews for

Gentlemen and Players

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Great Book

This is the third book written by Joanne Harris that I've read and I have to say it is my favorite. As soon as I finished I wanted to go back a do it all over again. I love the character of Roy Straitley and the setting of St. Oswalds. The plot is ever compelling wit...
This is the third book written by Joanne Harris that I've read and I have to say it is my favorite. As soon as I finished I wanted to go back a do it all over again. I love the character of Roy Straitley and the setting of St. Oswalds. The plot is ever compelling with twists and turns, cunning and heart. I listened to the unabridged audiobook version of this book and if you can find it I highly recommend it. I'm an avid reader of books with my eyes and my ears. I love the freedom of being able to immerse myself in a story even while driving, grocery shopping or cleaning the house. What made the audiobook version of this novel stand out was the rich baritone of Steven Pacey delivering Ms. Harris' fluid and intelligent prose. This book shares the texture and community of Dead Poet's Society while being unique in it's plot and characters. Roy Straitley has some outstandingly snarky sotto voce lines in the story that gave me to giggling and lent the character a depth and warmth that made him approachable even for a female reader half his age. Read this book, listen to this book...whatever you do don't miss this book.

posted by onion_girl on February 25, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Unpredictable twists

As the jacket blurb says, there are enough plot twists to keep you almost permanently off balance, although the book is not truly a mystery. The depiction of an elite private school is interesting to those of us who have never attended one.

posted by Stemline on March 30, 2009

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  • Posted February 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book

    This is the third book written by Joanne Harris that I've read and I have to say it is my favorite. As soon as I finished I wanted to go back a do it all over again. I love the character of Roy Straitley and the setting of St. Oswalds. The plot is ever compelling with twists and turns, cunning and heart. I listened to the unabridged audiobook version of this book and if you can find it I highly recommend it. I'm an avid reader of books with my eyes and my ears. I love the freedom of being able to immerse myself in a story even while driving, grocery shopping or cleaning the house. What made the audiobook version of this novel stand out was the rich baritone of Steven Pacey delivering Ms. Harris' fluid and intelligent prose. This book shares the texture and community of Dead Poet's Society while being unique in it's plot and characters. Roy Straitley has some outstandingly snarky sotto voce lines in the story that gave me to giggling and lent the character a depth and warmth that made him approachable even for a female reader half his age. Read this book, listen to this book...whatever you do don't miss this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2007

    Pay close attention. The pay-off is huge!

    Audere. Agere. Auferre. ¿To dare, to strive, to conquer¿ is the motto of St. Oswald¿s School, setting of this brilliant two-person POV novel by the half-British, half-French author of Chocolat. In that motto lay not only the raison d¿être of the villain, but also a major identity clue. Almost nothing is what it seems in this beautifully written high-stakes tale of revenge. The revelations and reversals require careful reading. Manipulative? Yes. But then any author who names her characters as if they were in a morality play is openly inviting the reader to pay close attention.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2009

    Great Read

    It took a bit to get into this book but once I did it was difficult to
    put it down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    COMPELLING, SUSPENSEFUL PLUS AN ACES NARRATION

    Joanne Harris won high praise her debut novel 'Chocolat' (1999), which was later made into a feature film. The books that followed, especially 'Five Quarters of the Orange' attracted more readers. . For me, she's one of those authors who just keeps getting better and better as time goes on. Proof? The compelling, suspenseful 'Gentlemen and Players.' Set at an exclusive school in England, St. Oswald's Grammar School for Boys, we're introduced to two teachers, the venerable classics professor, Roy Straitley, and a younger teacher. After 30 years at St. Oswald's, a school he loves, Straitley is on the verge of retirement. There are too many changes in the wind - five new faculty members, the advent of computers, advanced technology he's ready to turn teaching over to younger hands. However, the peaceful, golden days of retirement begin to fade when the usual serenity of St. Oswald's is interrupted by a series of inconvenient incidents. Nothing to really become exercised about - a missing coffee cup, a straying pen. Would that were all. The story turns darker when we learn that the new teacher has come to St. Oswald's with one goal in mind - to destroy the school by whatever means necessary. He harbors an old grudge against the school and means to be revenged. Harris's mixture of academia with all its conventions and the duel for the future of St. Oswald's between Straitley and a psychotic master strategist result in a riveting story. There could not be a better actor to serve as reader than British thespian Steven Pacey. He easily inhabits the personas of the older Straitley and the younger man bent on destruction as the story unfolds in alternate narrative voices. Pacey achieves nuances of the patrician with Straitley, and dark obsession with the teacher intent on vengeance. Hard to find a more enjoyable or compelling listening experience! - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2010

    Fun Mystery

    If you love stories of England past, as I do, then this is for you. Good character development so I THOUGHT I could picture the characters and hear their voices, except for the KILLER! Totally fooled. Fun book with great ending.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 11, 2010

    Harris'style is generally quite romantic and evocative but I seldom think of her as a mystery writer. This combines both genres nicely.

    I had trouble putting this book down. The portrait of the stuffy old English boys' school in decline rolled around my head the way you let a fine wine swirl around your mouth, always sure you have missed a hint of some other flavor. Though I was able to figure out what was happening before the ending, I really enjoyed the ride and frequently was almost convinced I was wrong. Loved the book. One of her best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2007

    Finish The Laundry and Pay the Bills First........

    You won't have time to do them after opening 'Gentlemen and Players'. A first class mystery novel that kept me hanging from beginning to end. I gave up trying to anticipate: Joanne Harris was ahead of me at every turn in this wonderfully twisty tale. Ms Harris is a 21st century Dickens who endows her characters with droll names to match their personalities. I hold out faint hope that I'll meet up with Roy Straitly again. He's worth another novel, but I suspect that Harris doesn't repeat herself. One little thing---people survive far worse upbringings than that endured by one of the inhabitants of this book without becoming psychopaths. I thought Harris' behavioral justifications were weak. But this small point didn't spoil my enjoyment a bit. A very good read indeed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2007

    A Real Delight

    This book grabs you from the beginning and keeps you guessing til the very end. It is clever, very well written and its characters are engaging to say the least.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2006

    Riveting Story, Awesomely Told!!

    I'd already read Ms. Harris's book, Holy Fools, and am even more impressed by her newest offering. Both novels contain many of the same elements - deception, betrayal, ambition, forbidden longings. Gentlemen and Players deals with all of the above at an exclusive boys' school in the English countryside. The two protagonists are worthy adversaries. One is a revered, slightly eccentric Classics teacher in danger of becoming an unwanted anachronism. The other is a youngster from a working-class background who yearns for the elitism the school represents. The story is alternates between the two viewpoints. The child is now an adult, exacting a revenge for a devastating childhood experience involving St. Oswald's School - an experience revealed to the reader slowly and tantalizingly as the story unfolds. There is a breathtaking twist toward the end of the novel for which I was totally unprepared. The book was almost impossible to put down. One quick note: It's easy to tell the author is young, and hasn't heard that age 60 is the new 50! For some reason she characterizes a gentleman approaching 65 as if he were on the verge of complete decriptitude. Not true of people in their 60s this reviewer knows! Other than that, this book is terrific storytelling, and I cannot recommend it too highly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2006

    Highly recommeded!

    St. Oswald's Grammar School for boys has trained children of the elite for generations. It is a school with a high success rate and much tradition. But things are changing and not everything is for the better. ............... Roy Straitley has been a teacher at St. Oswald's for over thirty years. As Straitley sees tradition disappear and fancy technology begin to take over, he begins to seriously consider turning in his chalk and retiring. Email is his bane, but he could come to live with it. Not much else though. All the changes are almost overwhelming. ............... Five new members join the teaching staff of St. Oswald's. One of them (known often in the book as Snyde) is not there to teach promising young minds. Snyde is there for much darker reasons. ................ ***** Now this novel is told in a far different way than I am used to! Author Joanne Harris lets Roy Straitley narrate, but also allows Snyde his turn on the soap box. This is a bold move that few authors dare. Yet Joanne Harris succeeds in making it work! Highly recommended! *****

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 19, 2005

    The need to be visable

    Joanne Harris is back in a huge way, and has far outdone herself in her newest book, GENTLEMEN AND PLAYERS. Think Tartt's A SECRET HISTORY, Highsmiths' THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY , and Arturo Perez-Reverte's FLANDERS'S PANEL, then raise your expectations by 100% and you may have some idea of the enjoyment of reading this book. Harris' book is a 'game' between a sociopath and an old respected private school Master, where no one is safe and no idea is too unexpected. In GENTLEMAN AND PLAYERS we see an interplay of players that is very intricate and complicated, yet is so simplistic as to be entirely possible. Harris has created a character whose need for revenge and 'visibility' is desperate enough to kill and destroy anyone and anything. Self-obsession, abuse, deception, neglect taken to a level that it is amazing to read. The line between love and admiration, and hate and destruction is as fine and delicate and the plays on a chess board!! WOW, Joanne Harris is back with a winner that is so good that it is scary!!!

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    Posted December 3, 2008

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    Posted August 7, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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