Literature - Fiction

Dark, Suspenseful Tale About A Sociopathic Young Outcast

Different Class - A Novel by Joanne Harris
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From the New York Times bestselling author of Chocolat comes a dark, suspenseful tale in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith about a sociopathic young outcast at an antiquated prep school and the curmudgeonly Latin teacher who uncovers his dangerous secret.

After thirty years at St. Oswald’s Grammar in North Yorkshire, England, Latin master Roy Straitley has seen all kinds of boys come and go. Each class has its own clowns, rebels, and underdogs—all who hold a special place in the old teacher’s heart. But every so often there’s a boy who doesn’t quite fit the mold. A troublemaker. A boy with darkness inside.

With insolvency and academic failure looming, a new headmaster arrives at the venerable school, bringing with him new technology, sharp suits, and even girls to the dusty corridors. But while Straitley does his sardonic best to resist these steps toward the future, a shadow from his past begins to stir again. A boy who still haunts Straitley’s dreams twenty years later. A boy capable of terrible things.


From the author of ‘Chocolat,’ a suspenseful tale of a prep school sociopath

The Washington Post Book Review – January 1, 2017

It’s “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” meets “The Bad Seed.” Joanne Harris’s latest novel, “Different Class,” has a killer elevator pitch and, what’s more, it delivers on its intriguing premise. Harris is a British writer who is perhaps best known to American audiences for her novel “Chocolat,” which was made into a film starring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche. In “Different Class,” Harris demonstrates that she is as adept with twisty psychological thrillers as she is with modern folk tales set in charming French towns.

This time the scene is St. ­Oswald’s Grammar, a posh private school in North Yorkshire, England, where dark happenings in the school’s past haunt the present. Harris toggles between time periods and narrative voices, creating a rich, dramatic tale that builds to a surprising conclusion. Read more…