Title: Different Class
Author: Joanne Harris
Length: 403 pages
Where Bethany’s Copy Came From: IndyPL
Plot Basics: Latin Master Roy Straitley of St. Oswald’s boys school is back for yet another year. The school has a new headmaster who is determined to drag the school — and Straitley — into the 21st century. The headmaster used to be Straitley’s pupil and a man with past secrets. Straitley isn’t willing to go down and does all he can to keep the school from going down to, dragged under by past ghosts.
Banter Points: When I learned that Joanne Harris’ new book was a sequel (sort of) to “Gentlemen & Players,” I was thrilled. I love that book and the twisted mystery tied up in it. Straitley is so curmudgeonly loveable in his adherence to the past. Just like in “Gentlemen & Players,” the story weaves between Straitley and a mysterious second narrator, the reveal of whom it truly is, is one of the pivotal plot points. Harris is sneaky good at misdirection.
She also, a decade later, manages to catch the zeitgeist of 2005. A good chunk of the plot revolves around homosexuality and the fear of being found out. As I thought back to my education reporter career in the same time period, that was all spot on. Ditto with the focus on how technology could change everything.
Bummer Points: While Different Class is good, it’s just not quite as sharp as “Gentlemen & Players.”
Word Nerd Recommendation: Read Harris’ “Gentlemen & Players” and then follow it up with this second one in a welcome return to that world.