Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.
It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.
Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.
But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…
You can’t keep a good woman down.
It is 2006 and once again Roy Straitley, ageing classics master at St Oswald’s school, has to deal with major changes. He respects La Buckfast, as he calls her, but can’t stop himself calling her Headmaster. His “Brodie Boys” have moved up the school ladder but they still seek him out as their mentor. They have spotted something suspicious on the construction site of the new school building. Of course, Roy consults his Head before approaching the police, but this causes Rebecca Buckfast to begin telling him the story of her earlier life in small intriguing episodes.
Rebecca is an unreliable witness. She describes the mysterious disappearance from St Oswald’s of her 14-year-old brother, Conrad, when she was only 5. The frightening experience left her confused. What did she witness? As she describes her teaching career, fighting the prejudice against a woman in the nearby King Henry’s boys’ school, we can’t help admiring her, especially meeting resistance from her soon to be husband, Dominic, who would prefer her to teach with him at the local Comprehensive. We learn that Dominic also has secrets and despite his declining health, Roy Straitley looks forward to learning more.
The classical references to the rivers of the underworld in the book’s sections lead us towards Hades. Threads of deceit and confusion gradually reveal what happened all those years ago. Will the truth ever be revealed and how will the relationship between Roy and Rebecca develop? I found the epilogue particularly pleasing. Another masterpiece by Joanne Harris.
A Narrow Door on Amazon UK
My review of Different Class by Joanne Harris