Different Class – A Gripping Novel

It has been a while since I finished a book and wrote a review on the blog. This week I got to the end of ‘Different Class’ by Joanne Harris and I am keen to share my thoughts on it.

Having read the first book in the series, ‘Gentlemen and Players,’ I was really looking forward to get to find out what happened next. St Oswald’s Grammar School in North Yorkshire was once again the setting for a complex drama which revolved around Roy Straitley, the Latin teacher who was devoted to his job.

The Plot

The story jumps back and forth between 1981 and 2005. Back then some boys had got into some bother related to a missing lad and some drowned mice. Later on, one of those boys returned to St Oswald’s as the head teacher. His presence shakes Roy and begins a suspicious set of events that rock the whole town.

Straitley is soon under pressure to retire so that a fresh group of staff can come onboard. He smells trouble and finds himself in the middle of a confusing set of events. In the background, a disappearance, a staff reshuffle and some fairly offensive policies make St Oswald’s seem much less popular than before.

As usual, Harris can be relied upon to unravel a gripping storyline which soon engages you and sucks you right in. Twists and turns are written cleverly and help to keep you guessing. Each chapter is told by one of the key characters and the quality of writing is wonderful.

Summary

If you like a mystery drama then this novel is for you. Although it follows Gentlemen and Players, it also sits well as a story by itself. The characters are interesting and fully developed. Definitely download a sample of this narrative and I am sure you will find yourself wanting more.

Read, Watch, Listen Again

Every now and then I love to share what I am currently reading and enjoying as well as something I am watching and listening to. As November looms, it may feel like the right time to snuggle up on the sofa with a good book or TV show. You may want a new podcast to zone into when you are going for a run or, like me, whilst having a bath. Or maybe you need something to send you to sleep.

If you missed my October instalment, it is here. Last time I mentioned the funny paramedic TV series, Bloods, as well as a very nostalgic book, The Former Boy Wonder. I also spoke about the Dragoncast podcast which accompanies House of the Dragon.

Read: Normal People by Sally Rooney

I am incredibly late to the party with this one. Having seen the BBC series, I wondered whether I would appreciate the book as much. It was a lot to live up to.

A rich Irish girl who is antisocial and oozes confidence alongside an intelligent yet rugged guy who has met his match. Hiding the fact that he is attracted to his mother’s employer’s daughter, we witness the intriguing story or Marianne and Connel unfold.

The book is amazing! I found it weird that Sally doesn’t use speech marks but soon got used to that style. I can absolutely see why people rave about her writing. It is fascinating how she shapes a story in short chapters which are insightful, captivating and built around social challenges.

Watch: The Watcher on Netflix

When I first came across the advert for this I was instantly attracted because of Jennifer Coolidge, who recently appeared in The White Lotus. Later on I found out that Ryan Murphy had scripted this series based on real life events. I had to watch it for those reasons.

When a couple moved out of New York to the suburbs and bought a dream home, they quickly found themselves freaked out by the neighbours and some unusual occurrences. A letter arrived which was threatening and overshadowing, signed by someone who called themselves ‘The Watcher’.

I am half way through and loving the mix of scares, comedy and general weirdness. I cannot predict who The Watcher is but I am having fun trying to identify this menacing character.

Listen to: Calm

I have been using the Calm app for quite some time as a way to ease myself to sleep at night. I heard about it from a friend and have found it full of so many soundscapes, stories and relaxation pieces.

Sometimes I play some light piano music or raindrop sounds while I sleep. Other times I hear great sleep stories told by brilliant readers like Tamara Levitt or celebrities like Kate Winslet and Harry Styles. I suggest trying a free trial and seeing what you think. OK so it isn’t quite a podcast but it is a fantastic resource for those of us who struggle to get to sleep.

I take a nap a few times a week while listening to one of the half an hour nap stories.

Putting It Together

I hope your Autumn started well. It is incredibly warm in England which is worrying as it is meant to be cool by now. Climate change is definitely messing with our weather. So my way of distracting myself is keeping busy with books, TV shows and podcasts. I would love to know your thoughts on those I suggested. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

Books That Are Satisfying Me

Perhaps I haven’t written as much as usual about books that I am enjoying. So I thought it would be good to talk about a few that I have recently started. Nothing beats a good book and these two are already lining themselves up as top quality reads.

So if you like nothing more than putting your feet up and opening a good book, it would be well worth checking these titles out.

Already fun and character led.

Thrown by Sara Cox

I have been a fan of Sara Cox for a long time and have laughed out loud at her radio show for many years. I also really like her BBC2 show ‘Between The Covers’ where she gets a panel of celebrities to review upcoming and existing novels.

Knowing that Sara used to present a pottery TV show called The Great British Pottery Throwdown, it was amusing to think that she had written a story about people who meet in a pottery class. I love how she is setting the story up by writing each chapter from a different character’s point of view. Her anecdotes are quirky and her way with words is brilliant. So much so that I can hear her warm northern accent shining through.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

Another little gem is the debut novel from Alice Oseman. The creator of Heartstopper began with a book about Charlie’s sister Tori Spring and her fascination with blogging. A solitaire blog sets a game into action that she is quickly drawn into whilst dealing with some mental health issues.

Her struggle with depression feels real and Alice holds no punches when dealing with very current and relevant topics such as suicidal ideation. This book reads well and is very character driven. I love her cleverness in telling YA tales.

In A Nutshell

This was just a rapid overview of what I am currently reading but I can tell you that I am hooked on both books. Each one is well worth checking out. If you want a contemporary drama go for Thrown and if you prefer YA stories then try Alice’s book.