Skip to main content

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 :)
Anonymous 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.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy:, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…