Different Class by Joanne Harris (4 out of 5)

This is the advance I got from Tara at Touchstone Books. I like to call them manuscript copies because the binding and format reminds me of a manuscript. The book is newly released, and if you like a slow, pulsing thriller that has you saying over and over “What the hell just happened?”(in the last third of the novel especially), this should be among one of your first book purchases in 2017. You’re likely saying, “Joanne Harris. What has she written? I know that name!”. Well, the answer is many books, but she is best known, to me at least, as the author of “Chocolat”, which was a runaway NYT bestseller the first year I was a bookseller (when bookstores were on every corner), and a hit movie as well. The setting in this book is St. Oswald’s School, an English school that has been around forever, or about as long as Latin teacher Roy Straitley has. This school is still old school in many ways, a fact that incoming headmaster John Harrington, is trying desperately to change. No love lost between John and Roy, and it becomes clear pretty fast that the transition is going to be especially rocky for Straitley. Through flashbacks, we also meet two lads from back when Harrington and Straitley were pupils. Those lads- Charles Nutter and David Spikely- and their connections with Straitley and Harrington, shape this story in myriad, scary, and starting ways. This book is like a multi-faceted chess game, a metaphor that Harris uses, to great effect, throughout the book. The story unfolds slowly, so I beg of you, if you are impatient, stick with it. I had to read a chapter or three, then set it down, come back a day later, read another few chapters, and so forth. Until suddenly, things started to click and I couldn’t put the damn thing down! I didn’t realize until a user posted on Goodreads that Harris has also crafted two other novels that take place at St.Oswald’s. I have added those to my TBR pile now, although the likelihood of getting to them soon is unlikely! This book, though, is NOT part of a trilogy with the other two. From researching, it appears that Harris has said it is a stand alone title. So don’t worry about that! But DO pick up a copy soon, and remember…boys will be boys. This title is brought to us by the folks at Touchstone. (By the way, if you are a child/fan of the 80’s, you may find yourself thinking about Bonnie Tyler’s horrid video from that time for her “Total Eclipse of the Heart” smash hit, when reading about St. Oswald’s. I kept having flashbacks! Thankfully, the book you are reading doesn’t suck like that video!) So go out and get a copy now. 

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~ by generationgbooks on January 8, 2017.

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