The Honours Board
is a novel by Pamela Hansford Johnson
first published in 1970
. Set in the South of England
at Downs Park, a small fictional preparatory school
for boys, it follows the lives of the members of the staff over a couple of years. The teachers see themselves as a closely-knit community; however, time and again antipathies, rivalries, personal problems, tragedy and death affect the peaceful and harmonious life at the school.
The title of the novel refers to the commemorative plaque
which lists all the pupils who have passed the Common Entrance Examination
to one of the prestigious public schools
. Downs Park's academic record is not impressive, so throughout the novel the headmaster tries to attract gifted boys for his school.
Cyril Annick and his wife Grace have been running Downs Park for many years. Both are universally respected and loved by staff and pupils alike. Unforeseen problems for the school arise when the idiosyncrasies
of individual members of the staff threaten to upset life at the school. There is Rupert Massinger, the second master, whose womanizing
makes victims of both the school secretary and the headmaster's grown-up daughter. Also, with money he has inherited Massinger is planning to take over the school and gently force the Annicks into early retirement. To everyone's surprise, as a strategic move, Massinger and his wife, who also teaches at the school, decide to resign, to reculer pour mieux sauter
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