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Harriet Said

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  328 Ratings  ·  69 Reviews
Beryl Bainbridge's evocation of childhood in a rundown northern holiday resort.
Hardcover, 152 pages
Published December 31st 1973 by George Braziller (first published January 1st 1972)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Blair
In Harriet Said..., the final chapter comes first. We see two girls fleeing across a field, screaming and crying. They run home to their parents to tell them 'what had happened'; the police are called. Only when the story is complete does this scene make sense. However, the dread that permeates the book is not created by the knowledge that some catastrophe will eventually come to pass. In fact, once the creeping disquiet of its plot kicks in, it seems likely this climactic event – whatever it is ...more
Fiona
Apr 28, 2017 Fiona rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
Such a strange book, like a mixture of Muriel Spark and... another odd writer. I find this covered quite a taboo topic which was brave, but I didn't enjoy the writing at all! It was a drag to read until the last few pages where everything seemed to happen at once. I don't think I will be reading Beryl Bainbridge again...
Nancy Oakes
Apr 05, 2017 Nancy Oakes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-fiction
about a 3.8 - rounded up

Harriet Said ... is neither horror nor thriller, and after looking at several reader reviews, I do feel badly for those readers whose cover blurbs promised them either one of the other, and I can understand the low ratings, given that expectations based on said blurbs didn't match up to what's actually in this book. I also get that people may have been expecting a rehash of the Parker-Hulme case of 1954, since publicity re Bainbridge's book made the comparison. There are
...more
LeAnne
Nov 15, 2016 LeAnne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jesus. Thank goodness I have sons and not little girls. You want creepy? This is creepy!

This old story from the incredible Dame Beryl Bainbridge reminds me of the morbid calculations in 'The Bad Seed' but then slinked over with the precocious sexuality of 'Lolita.' All three were written in the mid 1950s, but this debut of Bainbridge's was actually inspired by the real-world New Zealand murder case of two young teenagers. The writer Anne Perry was one of the girls convicted of murder, and after
...more
Linda Strong
Harriet is the ringleader. Her friend follows the lead no matter where Harriet goes. One summer the friend is attracted to a much older, much unhappily married man. Being only 13-years-old and Harriet a year older, she's not certain what she should do about her feelings.

The girls ... Harriet, actually .... come up with a plan to entice, then embarrass, and humiliate the man they call The Tsar. Their actions lead to a chilling end for all of them.

I found this book to be on the dry side. I was wai
...more
Bert
Jan 03, 2017 Bert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jeez, that was horribly brilliant. A funny, uncomfortable read, which didn't feel at all dated but had that 60s bleak-yet-whimsical edge. Ugh, this had so many levels of skeeve and cruelty and innocence, and like i said it was deeply uncomfortable, but the writing was right up my street and those characters were all so true and sad and tragic. Trust me, it was great.
Kim
Oct 02, 2009 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
First paragraph: ‘Harriet said: ‘No, you don’t, you keep walking.’ I wanted to turn around and look back at the dark house but she tugged at my arm fiercely. We walked over the field hand in hand as if we were little girls.’



Interesting book this. It follows the story of two adolescent girls on a summer holiday in a small village in England. The younger of the two, the narrator who remains nameless throughout, develops an unhealthy obsession with a local, unhappily married man. What they are walk
...more
Mary
Aug 27, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A dark chilling novel about lost innocence during one summer holiday.
Harriet and her friend the narrator come across Mr Biggs an old grumpy man who they nick name the Tsar.
They plan to beguile then humiliate him with disastrous shocking consequences which results in a rather chilling end to the book.
Harriet is the ring leader and her friend does what she thinks Harriet wanted!
I loved the way Harriet called her Mum Little Woman!
An original and disconcerting story!
Then Harriet said!
Cleo Bannister
Set in Formby soon after the end of the Second World War, Harriet Said is one of the darkest and most disturbing fictional books I have ever read, and those of you who read my reviews will note that I tend towards the dark side! There is something very frightening about young girls, and Harriet and her nameless friend our narrator, are just thirteen and fourteen years old at a time when we imagine that generation to be cloaked in innocence.

At the beginning of the summer holidays our narrator, ha
...more
John
May 04, 2016 John rated it it was ok
Harriet is the dominant member of a friendship between two young girls home from boarding school for the summer vacation; the other, firmly under Harriet's thumb, is our narrator, whose name we never do learn. At Harriet's instigation, they decide as a sadistic game to lure and then humiliate a local, unhappily married middle-aged man, whom they call the Tsar. And this is the story of how they do that, and the terrible consequences.

I'd expected to enjoy this quite a lot more than in the event I
...more
Azumi
Nov 21, 2016 Azumi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Está muy bien escrito, si te paras a pensar es bastante oscura y espeluznante, pero no me ha acabado de convencer del todo.
Creo que es una historia a la que se le hubiera podido sacar más chicha si hubiese estado contada de otra forma.
Kirsty
Sep 27, 2016 Kirsty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review to follow.
Bellezza
Jul 23, 2012 Bellezza rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
I found this little Penguin paperback, of only 152 pages, while I was attending the Classical Pursuits program in Toronto. It was on one of the hall tables bearing a sign, "Take One, Leave One," thereby encouraging readers to share their books. Because it was thin, because I was curious about two teenage girls who seem to be spying on someone's house, I took it home.


A bold and bossy Harriet has a loyal follower in her friend, of whose name we're never sure as the story is told in first person th
...more
Michael
May 05, 2016 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The only reason I finished this was because at 188 pages, I was crossing my fingers for a memorable ending, at the very least. Strike one. "The shock-power of The Exorcist, the chilling suspense of The Other" screams the front cover. Strike two. A story of two young, manipulative girls sounds like it might have some tense moments, but there was zero suspense to be found here.
Rachel
Jul 05, 2014 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was interesting - not sure enjoyable would describe it. A very daring book, in so much as none of the main protagonists are sympathetic characters. It is certainly dark and Harriet is a truly disturbing character.
Beatlezu
Oct 21, 2015 Beatlezu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esta entre un 3,5 y 4 ... Me ha gustado mucho aunque me esperaba algo diferente gracias a la sinopsis que brinda Impedimenta ... Eniweiiiii ... Este libro me hizo acordar mucho a Lolita :)
Esta bien escrito, es ligero y cortito. :)
Steph (loves water)
Nov 22, 2012 Steph (loves water) rated it really liked it
WOW!!!!! What a short little psychological thriller this turned out to be! My first Beryl Bainbridge book (shame on me for not reading her sooner) but not my last. This jaded reader recommends this for some psychological horror!
Imation
Feb 19, 2015 Imation rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Creo que es más la historia en sí, que tiene su morbo y es impactante. Pero el libro en conjunto no tiene más que señalar. Una lectura tibia.
Juliana
May 27, 2016 Juliana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: vmc, 2016
Druscilla Morgan
This book has stayed with me ever since I first read it in my early twenties....20 years later, I still remember it's chilling, haunting effect. One of my all time favourites.
Sally
"When I say scream, you scream"
By sally tarbox on 30 May 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
A really intense, atmospheric and disturbing novel, set in a seaside town around 1950. The hefty 13 year old narrator is dominated by her adored chum Harriet. A knowing teen, able to charm those around her while secretly mocking them, Harriet determines what the pair will get up to one long, hot summer. On the cusp of adulthood, they are keen to try out their attractions on the men around them, and the narrator im
...more
Lisa Guidarini
A chilling tale, Harriet Said… by Beryl Bainbridge explores the dark side of adolescence, the very particular point at which childhood morphs into sexual awakening. Two 13-year old girls: thin and lovely Harriet, and an unnamed pudgy and unattractive narrator who’s never named, live in Merseyside. Returned from boarding school, the narrator resumes her traditional role as sidekick and adorer of the beautiful Harriet, groomed to serve and carry out the whims of her friend.

Desperate to keep her fr
...more
Ali
Mar 04, 2016 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Harriet Said… was Beryl Bainbridge’s first written novel, although not published until 1972 following A Weekend with Claude and Another Part of the Wood. As Linda Grant says in her introduction to this Virago edition Beryl Bainbridge is a writer whose books have “a black heart to them, in a comic chest.” An apt description I think. This is however, only the second I have read – The Bottle Factory Outing was my first, read for a Beryl Bainbridge reading week in 2012 and had certainly intended to ...more
Elizabeth
This is the third book I've read based on/inspired by the infamous Parker-Hulme murder case (I've still yet to read The Wicked Girls).

While this isn't as fun as the lesbian pulp fiction take, The Evil Friendship, it also isn't as dry as Obsession either (the latter being almost more biographical than fiction). Rather, this book is more like The Wives of Bath, wherein it's loosely based off of certain aspects of the case, and then the author runs in their own direction.

It's a short, quick little
...more
Rachael Eyre
A disturbing tale, with obvious echoes of the Parker-Hulme case. Apparently Bainbridge struggled to find a publisher because the leads are such hateful little beasts. Even all these years later Harriet's cold blooded manipulation, whether of the narrator (who's just as bad in her own way) or everyone around her has the power to shock.

Indeed, quite apart from the 'teens run wild' theme, which arguably has more relevance than ever, there's a hefty wallop of paedophilia, with at least two adult cha
...more
Michael
Mar 07, 2014 Michael rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What an odd little book. I found this (as most people did) in a paperback bin with the heading "The shock power of The Exorcist" from the NY Times on the cover. Needless to say, at a slight 185 pages it's not shocking or startling, only mildly intriguing.

Two young teenage girls taunt and play slight psychological games with an older man who is lost and marred by a life unlived. There really isn't much to 'give away' about what happens in the story, but suffice to say it's a basic tale of dark lu
...more
Astra
Feb 10, 2014 Astra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: friendship
I picked up this book because I have for a while have had a kind of morbid fascination with the Parker-Hulme murder case. The author loosely based this book of the newspaper articles she read on the murder after it first happened. Naturally I was very eager to read this book, but it just did not live up to my expectations.

In this books defense the writing was very good. I flowed well and created powerful images that could occasionally make you uncomfortable and tense. But unfortunately that is
...more
Scott Laight
This is a pretty tough one to review.

I came across the story from a list of books published in Stephen King's non-fiction, 'Danse Macabre' as a great example of horror done well.

The style of writing is very tense and told in a stilted, diary-style narrative from the point of view of a teenage girl who, with her devious best friend Harriet, decide to get cheap kicks out of taunting and misleading a lost, unhappy middle-aged man.

Throughout the story you get the feeling something dreadful is goin
...more
Sub_zero
Feb 09, 2015 Sub_zero rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reto-2015
La seducción no es un juego de niños. Sin embargo, siempre hay tramposos dispuestos a saltarse las reglas. Tahúres sin escrúpulos que no dudan en torcer a lo largo de la partida los frágiles límites de la experimentación y la inocencia. Beryl Bainbridge da muestra de ello en Lo que dijo Harriet, una sugerente novela que pretende ser subversiva y provocadora donde dos muchachas tratan de enamorar a un marido infeliz mediante sucias tretas y maniobras muy bien calculadas. El resultado, por desgrac ...more
Rob
Apr 22, 2016 Rob rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beryl Bainbridge's third novel when it comes to release date but actually her first - and it feels at times like a piece of juvenilia found down the back of the sofa and released to capitalise on the author's growing fame. That said, it's an unsettling account of a prococious teenage girl and her easily led pal and their attempt to ensnare a much older and unhappily married man in a variety of ways. This is long before paediatricians were attacked in Portsmouth and must have been scandalising at ...more
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Dame Beryl Margaret Bainbridge DBE was an English writer from Liverpool. She was primarily known for her works of psychological fiction, often set among the English working classes. Bainbridge won the Whitbread Award twice and was nominated for the Booker Prize five times. In 2008, The Times newspaper named Bainbridge among their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".
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