Joanne Harris: A Narrow Door

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for A Narrow Door. My review is written with thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me on the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book via Netgalley.


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.


A Narrow Door follows the lives of pupils and teachers at St Oswald’s School and therefore continues from the events of Gentlemen & Players and A Different Class. I did read Gentlemen & Players many years ago, but I have not read A Different Class. I would recommend doing so prior to reading A Narrow Door, as this will make the recurring characters (who have been wonderfully developed over the trilogy) clearer in the reader’s mind. 

St Oswald’s is a very old fashioned institution and I loved the descriptions that made me feel as though I was walking the corridors and eavesdropping in the staff room. 

Some of the teachers, including one of the central characters, Roy Straitley, are reluctant for the school to use more progressive methods of working and are disconcerted by the decision to admit female students and appoint a female “Headmaster.” l loved the way that Harris used this premise to explore discrimination in society and it really gave me food for thought. The relationship between Straitley and Ms Buckfast is wonderful and at times particularly heartwarming, which added a further layer to an already interesting plot. 

There are several layers in the plot of A Narrow Door, and different readers will find that different elements of the novel resonate with them. Harris has brought all these concepts together in a fascinating way. On the face of it, it is a mystery and I wanted to know what had happened all those years ago. 

A Narrow Door is available from Amazon.

You can follow the rest of the blog tour here:

2 thoughts on “Joanne Harris: A Narrow Door

  1. I read both of these previous books as well as another one set in the town of Malbry, where St. Oswald’s is – not part of this series, but slightly connected. I can hardly wait for my copy of this to arrive.


  2. I’ll have to read this sometime.. but first? I’m off to read up on the other two. Maybe I’ll even get to read them in order. 😆
    Great review, Kate, and thanks so much for sharing it!


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