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A Game of Hide and Seek (Virago Modern Classics)

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  482 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Harriet and Vesey meet when they are teenagers, and their love is as intense and instantaneous as it is innocent. But they are young. All life still lies ahead. Vesey heads off hopefully to pursue a career as an actor. Harriet marries and has a child, becoming a settled member of suburban society. And then Vesey returns, the worse for wear, and with him the love whose memo ...more
Paperback, 260 pages
Published May 29th 1986 by Virago Press Ltd (first published 29th 1951)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,291)
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Nov 06, 2012 Cecily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A teenage near-romance has the chance of being rekindled twenty years later. Twenty years too late? (This review gives away no more than is in the books's blurb, though the quotes section at the end is a little less subtle.)

It is poignant and painful, occasionally funny, but never sentimental or saccharine. Beautifully written, and it doesn't take the easy options. However, Taylor often introduces new characters or situations as if the reader knows all about them, only filling in the gaps later.
May 08, 2012 Ali rated it it was amazing
In A Game of Hide and Seek Elizabeth Taylor has created a heartbreakingly poignant love story. Though this is in no way a conventional girl meets boy happy ever after kind of love story. I imagine the story was shaped largely by events in Elizabeth Taylor’s own life – and this shows in the absolutely exquisite writing and what feels for the reader, as an absolute authenticity. Nicola Beauman author of The Other Elizabeth Taylor considers the character of Harriet – along with that of Julia in At ...more
Feb 21, 2012 SarahC rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Pym, Bowen, Persephone pubs
I happened upon Elizabeth Taylor, as I read that this novel was being republished and released last week. I am glad I did because it was a quiet, lovely read. The relationship is described and perhaps receives its best explanation in the beginning pages of this book. The couple, Harriet and Vesey, are playing actually a real game of hide and seek with Vesey's young cousins, Harriet's surrogate family at their relaxed home on the edge of town. Vesey and Harriet's friendship had grown here as they ...more
Mary Ronan Drew
Feb 26, 2012 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing
Elizabeth Taylor is best known for her novel Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, which in 2005 was made into a fine movie starring Joan Plowright. And if you have seen that film or read that book you have experienced the mix of laughter, tears, indignation, and sympathy that Taylor's stories evoke.

In A Game of Hide and Seek we meet Harriet and Vesey when they are 18, he casually cruel to hide his insecurity, she shy and fearful. They are in love but they dare not express their feelings. The closest th
Apr 22, 2013 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library_books, ebooks
My big problem here is that I don't think I understood the ending, which would make a difference, but here goes ...

I didn't find this a love story at all, but a tragedy on multiple levels. At the center are Harriet and Vesey, with their "love" thwarted by his summary dismissal from his aunt's house. It was never clear to me that he had any intention of following through with rescuing her from her situation; it later turns out he can barely take care of himself. There's a later implication that h
A Game of Hide and Seek was published in 1951 and was Taylor's fifth novel. The main narrative concerns the relationship between Harriet and Vesey from their friendship when they were young which blossoms into an awkward love. Although in love, it is not strong enough to keep them together when Vesey goes to university. Vesey becomes a second-rate actor and Harriet marries the older, and rather boring, Charles with whom she has a daughter Betsy. Fifteen years later Vesey shows up again and Harri ...more
Aug 28, 2012 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 3Ms
Recommended to Laura by: SarahC
Opening lines:
Sometimes in the long summer’s evenings, which are so marked a part of our youth, Harriet and Vesey played hide-and-seek with the younger children, running across the tufted meadows, their shoes yellow with the pollen of buttercups.

This is the love story between Harriet and Vesey, a love they captivated since their youth. However, their lives take a different course and Harriet married another man. But their love nevertheless persists even if this not brings a happy end to the stor
Huw Rhys
Apr 07, 2016 Huw Rhys rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine a painter. After much contemplation, he daubs down one, thick streak of paint. Then over the next few days, he proceeds, very slowly, methodically and with great thought and accuracy to add other layers on top of this one streak. After a substantial period of time, the original streak of paint is almost completely obscured - but you know it's still there. Each subsequent addition has enriched the original streak - but it's still just the one single streak. You are aware that the canvass ...more
Jan 23, 2012 Laura rated it it was ok
Looking at the other reviews, I am shocked that this got anything higher than 3 stars. Perhaps it is just me, but it was one of those books that I had to make myself read to the end.
I had a hard time putting my finger on what it was that I didn't enjoy about this book.
I was quite readable at times, but overall I thought it didn't flow very well; it jumps uncomfortably from one time period to the next and for many parts I had trouble knowing what on earth she was on about (and frankly, didn't c
Nicholas During
Feb 01, 2012 Nicholas During rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a cross-generational love story that delves not only into the idea of a relationship between two people, and how love can come about and lasts because of seemingly conflicting actions, but also how the bonds of a family in all the generations works to help and also hurt people. As the previous line shows this is not your average love story. Yes it ends badly. Yes the reader finds it difficult to understand how people behave that way (or love that person), but I think that is probably the ...more
May 10, 2014 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hide and Seek is a novel of passion and star-crossed love. It begins with two teenagers, Harriet and Vesey. Harriet is a timid girl and Vesey, while also shy, is prone to outbursts of malice that may be found in episodes like his excessive teasing of the housekeeper. Vesey dreams of writing great literature and has the mind to make that possible while Harriet's dreams are somewhat less. She is unambitious and both her desire and her mind fail her when necessary to pass the exams for entrance to ...more
Anastasia Hobbet
Mar 03, 2012 Anastasia Hobbet rated it liked it
Shelves: novel
I can now see why the 'other' Elizabeth Taylor is sometimes compared to Barbara Pym, though she's more cynical, more akin to another contemporary, Graham Green, and this book is much darker than the Taylor book recently made into a sappy movie, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont. It's the tale, set in drab postwar England, of a dull, stifled suburban housewife and her childhood love, who meet again in adulthood and find themselves drawn inexorably together. There are no admirable characters in this b ...more
Nov 24, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Taylor writes so sensitively about inner feelings. She is very clever at recalling adolescent yearnings and their romanticised views. I found it a very moving book. Dealing with life and how our choices affect everything and everyone involved. Harriet's relationship with her mother was very touching to me. The danger of idealizing memories and people. It was beautifully written and I loved it.
Hilary Woolf
Nov 09, 2015 Hilary Woolf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I enjoyed Elizabeth Taylor's observations of time passing and the amusing and touching scene of a couple trying to part with books for a bazaar but finding them hard to part with ! Lovely cover.
Susan Kavanagh
Apr 04, 2015 Susan Kavanagh rated it really liked it
Shelves: virago
I am always amazed at how well Elizabeth Taylor depicts the details of domestic life. With a few deft strokes she conjures up characters and place. Incredibly overlooked in her time, she has been recognized by many younger writers and Virago Modern Classics continues to reprint her books. In addition to this story of the repercussions of a second chance at love, I highly recommend Palladian, In a Summer Season, At Mrs. Lippincote's and A View from the Harbor. And these are just the novels I've r ...more
May 07, 2015 Kathie rated it really liked it
Shelves: nyrb, 2015
Slow and quiet, written with deftness, subtlety, and dark wit, this novel explores a teenage infatuation that comes back to haunt in later life. Does Harriet want her comfortable marriage with Charles, or the dream of what might have been with Vesey?

As Caleb Crain writes in the introduction, "A difficulty in seeing what one wants is part of the game, after all. One begins to play by covering one's eyes."
Oct 07, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
exquisite writing about Harriet and Vesey. Perfectly captures the mood and setting. Brilliant representation of the dilemma of Harriet's situation and one of the best endings of a novel -ever...
Nov 15, 2012 Leila rated it really liked it
odd, disturbing very abrupt ending. excellently written with compelling characters though who will stay with you, which is my measure of good/great writing.
Óscar Brox
Jan 03, 2015 Óscar Brox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La clase media/alta ha protagonizado no pocas de las grandes obras de las letras británicas, desde el teatro de Terence Rattigan hasta la novela según Elizabeth Taylor. No en vano, hay una poderosa reflexión moral sobre ese estrato social construido desde férreas rutinas, sólidos valores y fuertes amonestaciones. Un ambiente estancado, aburrido por naturaleza, que respira a través de esas tentaciones que nunca sabe hasta qué punto debe poner en práctica; decisiones que implican un vuelco sobre l ...more
Oct 30, 2013 AticoLibros rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: atico
«Elizabeth Taylor es genial: logra que el lector entienda a los personajes, a veces viéndoles con estremecedora claridad, pero siempre empatizando con ellos. Quizá porque los dibuja con compasión, pero también con precisión quirúrgica.»


«Un gran placer literario (…) El juego del amor es una de las mejores novelas de Elizabeth Taylor.»


«Es hora de redescubrir a Elizabeth Taylor, esa brillante novelista.»


«Divertida, salvaje, llena de soledad y emociones
Jun 20, 2013 Eric rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, though unremarkable, story of Harriet and Vessey who reignite their childhood dreams of one another when they are adults, years after Harriet has married Charles and gave birth to Betsy. The major characters. save Betsy, are simply not interesting, with Harriet's husband given unbelievable human characteristics, which I guess is to make Harriet's life seem empty enough for her to stray, though Vesey isn't terribly interesting to read about himself. There are some nice moments throu ...more
Jun 03, 2012 Christy rated it liked it
Recommended to Christy by: Buried in Print
In a nutshell:

When Harriet was a teenager, she fell in love with Vesey, the nephew of her mother’s best friend. They fumble toward romance, but Vesey is a little too cruel and diffident and Harriet too passive to make much of a relationship out of their mutual attraction. Years later, Harriet is married with a teenage daughter of her own and crosses paths with Vesey, who is an actor, but not a terribly successful one. There is then, the classic set-up: do they rekindle a romance or do they stay
Aug 04, 2009 Susann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persephone
I don't need to like the characters in a novel to like a book. But when it's a book about marital infidelity, it really helps to like (or at least empathize with) someone - either the cheater or the cheatee...or the child or the friend or anyone. But these characters were not worth any emotions that I tried to muster up. I just kept thinking, "that's who you're in love with? really?"

That said, I can't argue that Taylor lacked talent. She deftly drew each character and setting, so that I was enti
Leslie Ann
Mar 05, 2016 Leslie Ann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, bookclub
2.5 stars. I may be influenced by having read Cannery Row recently, but I'm getting tired of British novels where characters don't say what they really mean. The denizens of Steinbeck's novel were like that, too, but it didn't matter because people knew each other so well that true intentions were obvious.

So, this is one of the problems I had with Elizabeth Taylor's novel: people don't seem to want to know each other. Another one is that I didn't really care for the characters (except for the co
Deborah J
Oh dear. What a disappointment. The first Taylor novel I've not enjoyed. I didn't care for any of the characters. Only the bits in the gown shop showed any life. Perhaps it's time to give Taylor a rest, as I'd hate to tarnish memories of her best - At Mrs Lippincote's and A View of the Harbour. This is supposed to be her best novel, but the charm didn't work this time around for me.
Aug 17, 2014 Rita rated it really liked it
1951. Another good Elizabeth Taylor novel.

I enjoyed reading what several other goodreaders had written, they point up several noteworthy things about the novel and the author.

Indeed all the characters resemble real people in that they all have their flaws, none is idealized or romanticized. We feel sad they are all less happy than they might be if only they would... communicate better, or have more self-confidence, be more open, or pay more attention to other people's feelings, etc. etc.

Aug 21, 2011 Elaine rated it really liked it
I really liked it. I had a difficult time with it at first and felt that it was going nowhere and then picked it up again and went nonstop. I also found reviews in the Saturday Review and the NYT. There is something hard for me to define that attracts me to Taylor's books. I almost always feel that there are redeeming features to every one of her characters if only I get to know them well enough. That aspect of her skill makes them more true to life for me. I loved the reconnection of Vesey and ...more
Apr 03, 2016 Mary rated it liked it
A story about missed opportunity to love and regrets of middle age. Reminded me of Henry James--what is felt, how that is different from what is said, and how that is different from what is understood from what someone says.
Jessica Marie
Though not quite the Elizabeth Taylor many were expecting, this Elizabeth is more than capable of making her own impression on the world of art. Taylor's post war publication, 'A Game of Hide and Seek', focuses on the simple, but essentially fruitless romance between two otherwise ordinary teenagers growing up in the shadow of the war. The novel charts their relationship from adolesence to adulthood. Despite their enviroment, there are no traumatic upheavals, no vows of lost love, the characters ...more
Suzie Grogan
May 08, 2013 Suzie Grogan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book - I always love to immerse myself in Elizabeth's Taylor's wonderfully insightful prose. But this one was less engaging for some reason - a little too aloof perhaps.

It is, though, a wonderful story about the nature of love, of marriage and of the compromises we make in our efforts to achieve a 'satisfactory' life. Here, betrayal is always possible, but inevitably resisted. However the consequences of the possibility still resonate and affect all the characters.

Don't make this
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NYRB Classics: A Game of Hide and Seek, by Elizabeth Taylor 1 31 Oct 23, 2013 10:35AM  
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Elizabeth Taylor (née Coles) was a popular English novelist and short story writer. Elizabeth Coles was born in Reading, Berkshire in 1912. She was educated at The Abbey School, Reading, and worked as a governess, as a tutor and as a librarian.

In 1936, she married John William Kendall Taylor , a businessman. She lived in Penn, Buckinghamshire, for almost all her married life.

Her first novel, At Mr
More about Elizabeth Taylor...

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