Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hearts and Minds by Rosy Thornton

Title: Hearts and Minds
Author: Rosy Thornton
ISBN: 978-0-7553-3388-2
Publisher:Headline review/2007
Pages: 341

I had read the review of this book on BookPlease's blog. I had left a comment there that I will read it if I get hold of it. The author, Rosy Thornton read my comment and she sent me an email offering me the book which I gladly accepted. After I started reading it, I had to finish it at one go.

It is book set in a college and being a teacher, that subject interested me.
St Radegund's College, Cambridge is an all women's college. Rycarte James, a former BBC executive is appointed as it new head of house, breaking one hundred sixty years of traditions. Since day one, he faces oppostion from the feminist group, teaching faculty as well as students. He does not know how to react and respond. Even his secretary is not with him. Ony the Senior Tutor, Dr Martha Pearce, apparently seems to be with him as she is concerned about the college's well being.

The college is in dire straits needing urgent funding and when an old friend of Rycarte James offers a large donation under the condition that his daughter be given admission, all forces seem to work against it. No one is willing to compromise on the principles of the college, even though funds might help rebuilding the library and might help in getting students financial help. Meanwhile, rents are increased and we see the students rebelling against it.

In the midst of it all, some students want to seduce the Dean so that they get into one group or the other.

Dr. Ros Clarke, a don, is hell bent that Rycarte James should not last the term. She even secretly leaks confidential reports to get him out at any cost. Dr Martha Pearce, although, wanting to help, has personal problems, in the form of a daughter, Lucia who has dropped out from school and husband, Douglas, both of whom appear to be laid back in their approach.

Finally, Rycarte James emerges out of his cocoon and mobilises forces for the betterment of the college. He makes everyone see his point of view about funds and donations from his friend, Luigi. Once he gets going, there is no stopping him.

College politics along with student unrest makes it an interesting read. The book moves forward well with wit and deep acumen. Thornton's prose is very readable and she can get into the nuances of she is writing. It is a book to savour. Anyone who is in the teaching field will like this book. As I did.

Thanks Rosy, for sending me this book.