A blindefellows chronicle - auriel roe
A Blindefellows Chronicle is a comic novel, comprising thirteen interconnected stories that take place over forty years. Its setting is Blindefellows, a second rate public school in the West Country, founded as a charity school for poor, blind boys, but long since converted into an ‘elite’ educational institution for anyone who can pay.
I received this novel through Netgalley for an honest review, and was delighted reading it the entire time.
The Chronicle follows a cast of wonderful characters through 40 years of the school's existence: from 1974 through to 2014. All of the stories can be read standalone, as they all briefly cover the history of the school up to the time the story is set, but I would highly recommend reading them in order, and savoring every word. I would also encourage you to think of the school itself as a character, as striking and whimsical as the flock of sheep that lives on its grounds, and the professors who bustle through its halls.
The characters you meet most often throughout the stories are Japes, the physics professor, who is at once a gentleman and a chronic womanizer; Sedgewick, the new history teacher whom Japes takes under his wing; Bunny, the headmaster (for most of the time, anyway); and Matron Ridgeway, the first woman to be hired as a staff member at the school. Honorable mentions go to the founder of the school, Hezekiah Lambton, and his flock of West Country Pygmy Bearded Blacks, generations of which have kept the teachers and students company.
The stories explore everything from the current events of the time, intra-school politics and relationships, the power of standing up for your beliefs, the strength of friendship and love, all while keeping a jovial mood. I haven't laughed this hard in a book in a long time; it absolutely made my entire day when I had the chance to read.
If you're a fan of dry, British humor, enjoy short stories with whimsical characters, have a soft spot for private school chronicles, or are just looking for a magnificent introduction to a very promising new writer, this one is for you.