Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris. My thank to Tracy Fenton for the opportunity to join and to the publisher for my review copy.
Author : Joanne Harris
Title : A Narrow Door
Pages : 400
Publisher : Orion
Publication date : August 4, 2021
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
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.
| MY THOUGHTS |
I didn’t realise when I started reading ‘A Narrow Door‘ that this is the third and final part of a trilogy. While some references to events of the past piqued my curiosity, none of it impacted my reading enjoyment and I feel this one reads quite well as a stand-alone.
St. Oswald’s School is a very traditional boys only school. But things are about to change. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in charge and the gates are opening to girls. The new regime under the watchful eye of Rebecca Buckfast is facing off the old guard, in this case mostly in the form of Master Straightley. But while the foundations of a new future are poured, the remains of a body are discovered. Who was this unfortunate person and how did they meet their untimely end?
If it were up to Rebecca, the past would be buried as deep as she could possibly bury it. And yet, there she is, headmistress of a school where many years ago her older brother Conrad disappeared. Apart from a few seemingly mismatched images in her mind, Rebecca doesn’t remember much about those days. But the past has a way of rearing its ugly head.
Rebecca telling her story starts out as a way of distracting Straightley so he doesn’t report the human remains to the police. And Straightley is curious, mostly about his old friend Eric who used to roam the halls of this school right alongside him. But also about Rebecca herself. This woman who somehow managed to enter his world and push through all these changes. I liked Straightley immensely. I completely understood his resistance to change and the loss of traditions and I loved how much he loved the school and “his boys”. At the same time, for various reasons, I also feared for him and worried about him.
Rebecca, on the other hand, I found massively unlikeable. She’s a manipulator, selfish and ruthlessly ambitious. That feeling I had about her never wavered, even when I learnt more about her background which offers clues as to how she became the woman she is today. That felt somewhat weird, as it seemed I should have been rooting for this woman set on taking down the patriarchy but I most definitely wasn’t. That said, the way she tells her story is immensely intriguing. Even at times when it felt as if little was happening, I found myself glued to the pages seeking out clues like breadcrumbs. While I may have figured out a few things a tad too easily to my liking, that didn’t bother me.
I was never entirely sure what Rebecca’s endgame was and I definitely feel as if I’ve been left with quite a few unanswered questions. What impressed me the most though is while this story is being told via a good old-fashioned normal adult conversation, it’s incredibly dark and slightly disturbing. Slowly but surely, the layers of the past are peeled back and revealed. You find yourself stuck in Rebecca’s web, just like Straightley, and even though you should know better you keep coming back for more. Also just like Straightley.
Full of intrigue and suspense, ‘A Narrow Door‘ took a while to grab me but when it did, it did not let go! Absolutely compelling, tense and chilling. I enjoyed it!
| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |
Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French writer, whose books include fourteen novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction,mythology and fantasy.
In 2000, her 1999 novel CHOCOLAT was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. CHOCOLAT has sold over a million copies in the UK alone and was a global bestseller.
She is an Honorary Fellow of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, and in 2013 was awarded an MBE by the Queen.
20 Books of Summer : 12/20