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EBOOK à The Go-Between â Of all the novels LP Hartley has written I think The Go Between is the bestIt is in what is to me the best tradition of fiction John Betjeman in the Daily Telegraph In one of the first and finest of the post war studies of early adolescence, an old man looks back on his boyhood and recalls a summer visit to a Norfolk country house at the beginning of the centuryNot yet equipped to understand the behaviour of adults, he is guiltily involved in a tragic drama between three grown up people The author forcefully conveys the intensity of an emotional experience which breeds a lasting mistrust of life I bought this book because I was intrigued by its first line The past is a foreign country they do things differently there It certainly is an intriguing line, but so muchcould have been done with the message than is done here The story is told by a sixty two year old man, Leo Colston He writes of his experiences in the summer of 1900 when he was almost thirteen That summer he was invited to stay with his upper class friend Marcus Maudsley in their Norfolk estate, Brandham Hall, in I bought this book because I was intrigued by its first line The past is a foreign country they do things differently there It certainly is an intriguing line, but so muchcould have been done with the message than is done here The story is told by a sixty two year old man, Leo Colston He writes of his experiences in the summer of 1900 when he was almost thirteen That summer he was invited to stay with his upper class friend Marcus Maudsley in their Norfolk estate, Brandham Hall, in England The story revolves around what happened in those few weeks and how what happened changed Colston s life forever The story does not feel told, but vividly experienced as the elderly man relives the events of that summer You never forget that it is the elderly English man speaking You hear this in his manner of speaking The themes are interesting a child s incomprehension of adult behavior and ambiguous speech, love, death and deception It is about the simultaneous process of losing the naivety of a child and the abrupt awakening to the deceptions of adulthood It draws a rather negative view of British upper crust values and mode of life I find the consequences of the events as they are drawn in the story to be exaggerated I felt nothing for any of the characters The events left me totally unmoved There is a coldness, a steeliness in the manner in which the story is related This coldness reflects who Leo Colston came to be, but I find it questionable that such a man would have any interest in telling us his story The audiobook narration by Sean Barrett is easy to follow and properly displayed the cold manner of the central protagonist A sublime novel, beautifully written and very evocative It has, probably one of the most famous opening lines in literature Do I need to quote it Probably not, but I will because it does sum up the book The past is a foreign country they do things differently there In the early 1950s Leo Colston looks back on the long hot summer of 1900 when he turned 13, the memory of which he has blanked out He discovers his diary and begins to piece together the events Hartley describes life in an E A sublime novel, beautifully written and very evocative It has, probably one of the most famous opening lines in literature Do I need to quote it Probably not, but I will because it does sum up the book The past is a foreign country they do things differently there In the early 1950s Leo Colston looks back on the long hot summer of 1900 when he turned 13, the memory of which he has blanked out He discovers his diary and begins to piece together the events Hartley describes life in an English preparatory school rather well and the relationship between Leo and Marcus Maudsley is believeable throughout Leo is invited to Brandhan Hall to spend part of the holidays including his birthday with Marcus and his family a home much grander then Leo s Here Leo accidentally falls into the role of go between for Marian Maudsley Marcus s sister, supposed to be engaged to Lord Trimingham and a local farmer Ted Burgess The tragedy is played out in the shimmering heat of the summer, set around life in the Hall, a cricket match and a general sense late Victorian Edwardian sense of progress.The description of a hot English summer is spot on I m being reminded of that at the moment and there is plenty of symbolism going on beneath Leo becomes obsessed with Mr Maudsley senior s weather station checking the rising Mercury contrast Mercury, messenger of the gods Leo s innocence, inquisitiveness and naivety perfectly counteract the desires, plots and plans of the adults Hartley explores the nature of class and gender at the time the cricket match is so exactly portrayed Hall vs Village there are also deeper meanings the scene with the deadly nightshade is remarkable and Leo s interest in the signs of the zodiac all fit neatly together as part of the tapestry Of course, when reading and writing about it, Pinter s brilliant film starring Alan Bates and Julie Christie is in my mind and has become almost impossible to separate from the book The remembering of repressed memories is very Freudian and the obvious defence mechanisms ring very true as does the intrusion of adult sexuality into young innocence The restraint and not revealing everything adds to the power of the novel just a beautifully written novel The go betweenby L.P.Hartley, one of my favourite novels, is in my mind inseparably connected with the movie directed by Joseph Losey Every time I m thinking of it I hear great music motif performed by Michel Legrand Having watched lately the recent adaptation of that classic I felt strong need to read it again to know how I would feel about it today In the summer of 1900 just under 13 years old Leo Colston, imaginative and sensitive boy receives an invitation to spend part of holidays with The go betweenby L.P.Hartley, one of my favourite novels, is in my mind inseparably connected with the movie directed by Joseph Losey Every time I m thinking of it I hear great music motif performed by Michel Legrand Having watched lately the recent adaptation of that classic I felt strong need to read it again to know how I would feel about it today In the summer of 1900 just under 13 years old Leo Colston, imaginative and sensitive boy receives an invitation to spend part of holidays with his schoolmate Marcus Maudsley in his family country estate, impressive Brandham Hall Previous year was a bad one to him, first had been seriously ill, then orphaned by the father Leo has right to think of this year and the new century with high hopes and expectations as a beginning of something exceptional, onset of mythical Golden Age from his dreams And entering Brandham Hall seems to create a real opportunity on that way On the spot Leo meets other members and friends of Maudsley s family including Marian, beautiful Marcus sister, wooing her Lord Hugh nothing is ever a lady s faultTrimingham and Ted Burgess, tenant of nearby farm Hartley brilliantly captured dreams and dilemmas of a twelve year old caught, against own will, partly due to own naivety and vanity though mainly because of egoism and callousness of adults, in a network of interrelated though conflicting aspirations Enchanted by all participants of the drama boy is trying to please everyone Leo feels almost reverent worship for this world and its inhabitants, these ethereal virgins and young men in white, weren t they embodiment of his personal Zodiac , for this hot summer, for that social order that is already crumbling although no one yet can see it His admiration for Marian s beauty, almost animal vitality of Ted and the gallantry of Hugh, at last his loneliness makes that having received some interest from them can not deny small favor in return Run, Leo, run Lovers are waiting for the letters You can t let them down Do I see little wings at your feet Nah, it s likely chiaroscuro, only sun plays tricks when you run out of the shadow But you were called Mercury as well, the messenger of the gods and you believed at that and, lost in adult s world and also in own half awaken sexuality, convinced of own greatness and magic abilities , elated by glorious summer, you tried to change course of events Oh, poor little Mercury, even your divine namesake wouldn t have done that so carelessly That novel is so brilliantly multilayered, psychologically nuanced, rich and evocative, dealing on so many levels, speaking of rigid class rules and social inferiority, naivety and calculation, deception and recognition, illicit love and hypocrisy, Victorian morality and conventions shackling people like stiff corset, finally eclipse of some epoch and loss of grace and innocence If the past is a foreign country what then is a human heart Poor Leo, half a century later tries to bring back all events that merciful memory had hidden from him Stranger in the world of feelings,cindery creature, disillusioned with life and dream golden age but also own role in the bygone tragedy like a guest from another world, exile from zodiacal Eden returns to the ancient past Go, Leo and from the bottom of your dried heart, from your reluctant memory, for the sake of this memorable summer and all these bigger than life people, go and find proper words After all you believe yet thatthere s no spell or curse except an unloving heart The cruelty of grown ups manipulating children is endless What a strange, strange story this is, told in a double voice by a single narrator, partly reflecting as an old man on the younger self s experience, partly slipping into the voice of that younger self to make sense of a highly traumatising experience for which the boy had no explanation, but which nevertheless explains later choices in the old man s lifestyle to such an extent that the summer of his 13th birthday in 1900 can be called l The cruelty of grown ups manipulating children is endless What a strange, strange story this is, told in a double voice by a single narrator, partly reflecting as an old man on the younger self s experience, partly slipping into the voice of that younger self to make sense of a highly traumatising experience for which the boy had no explanation, but which nevertheless explains later choices in the old man s lifestyle to such an extent that the summer of his 13th birthday in 1900 can be called life defining Unconscious of the grown up world of mixed messages and desires, young Leo gets drawn into an intrigue full of passion and sexuality and of ambition and class prejudice Outside his usual social environment as a visitor to Brandham Hall, a fashionable mansion in Norfolk, and sexually innocent and oblivious, he judges what happens to himself from the school boy s logic Bringing business letters to a local farmer from the young, beautiful and spoiled daughter of the Hall , he becomes a tool, a go between who is successfully manipulated to play an involuntary role in a disastrously lopsided affair With his lack of knowledge and experience, he manages to put the blame for the following tragedy all on himself, and it leaves him scarred for half a century A social and psychological study and a coming of age story, this novel reads like a mystery as well, as explored inside the head of a boy who got shocked for life by being exposed to ruthless sexual desire and its social implications in class ruled England of 1900 What a bitter disappointment to see fifty years later that he had always shunned emotional life because of such trivial selfishness as his Lady Marian displayed To the boy, it looked like a dangerous curse One is tempted to throw in some what ifs.What if the affair had been allowed to run its course Wouldn t Marian have tired of her lover and moved on to something else to occupy her mind Wouldn t Ted have had a chance to start agenuine relationship or to die in one of the wars on offer, as his son and Marian s brothers did What if Leo had remained at the Hall to see the d nouement Wouldn t he have calmed down and been able to let it go But that is the thing with brilliant novels They leave you wondering for days, knowing full well that the plot played out the way it did because it had to