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Review: The Go-Between, by LP Hartley

In the brutally hot summer of 1900, Leo Colston, aged 12, is invited by his friend Marcus Maudsley to stay at his family’s estate, Brandham Hall. Marcus’s sister Marian enlists Leo to carry letters back and forth between herself and her lover, Ted Burgess, a local farmer. At the same time, Marian becomes engaged to Lord Trimingham who, in the eyes of “polite” society, is a much better match for her.

Looking back, fifty years later, Leo’s memory tries to piece together the particulars of what happened that summer. Leo’s story is superficially a coming-of-age tale and the marking of the loss of innocence, but its also a story about perception and deception. Leo’s friendship with Marian is a lot stronger than his friendship with Marcus, who initially brought them together.

There’s a lot that 12-year-old Leo can’t figure out, especially when it comes to sex and love—for example, he assumes that when Marian becomes engaged, that the notes to Ted will stop. Its clear that Leo can’t quite condone the socially unacceptable relationship between Marian and Ted. But still, he continues to participate in the deception because he likes the attention it brings him. The ending of this powerful novel is explosive and shocking. The Go-Between is a well-written and admirable novel because of its unique take on the “forbidden love” and “coming of age” stories.

Matt at A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook wrote a much better review of this book here. Also reviewed by Bookey Wookey


Amanda said…
Thanks for the review! I added it to my TBR pile :)
nbbaker1102 said…
This looks like a good one. I'm adding this one to the TBR.
Teddy Rose said…
Looks like a reallyt good one. You really need to stop adding to my TBR like this! It is so out of hand.
Matt said…
"The past is a different country... they do things differently there?"

One of my favorite opening lines from novels. Well-written book.

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