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The Go-Between

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  8,637 ratings  ·  718 reviews
"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

Summering with a fellow schoolboy on a great English estate, Leo, the hero of L. P. Hartley's finest novel, encounters a world of unimagined luxury. But when his friend's beautiful older sister enlists him as the unwitting messenger in her illicit love affair, the aftershocks will be felt for years. The insp
Paperback, 326 pages
Published 2002 by New York Review of Books (first published 1953)
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Maurene Kauter by Leo's attachment and attraction to his remaining attached to her..even when he read her unopened letter to Ted and was shocked by its …moreby Leo's attachment and attraction to his remaining attached to her..even when he read her unopened letter to Ted and was shocked by its content.....his hurt and pain when Marcus revealed that his sister had used him....(less)

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Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english-novels
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

The go-between by 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 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
Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘The Go-Between,’ is a novel which I have meant to read for a long time. It has, of course, one of the most famous opening lines in literature - "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." Published in 1953, it is narrated by Leo Colston, who is sixty-odd when we first meet him, but is looking back on events in the hot summer of 1900, when he visited a school-friend, Marcus Maudsley, and his family, at Brandham Hall.

This is a very evocative novel, which really encapsulates
Hartley has taken my breath away with the sweep of his story and the majesty of his writing. This book was published when he was fifty-eight, in 1953, and evokes England before the wars "quickly, simply, effortlessly" (Tóibín, Intro p. x). Hartley, in an interview, wrote:
I wanted to evoke the feeling of that summer [in 1900], the long stretch of fine weather, and also the confidence in life, the belief that all's well with the world, which everyone seemed to enjoy before the First World War...Th
Apr 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Look, just give me a book by a Brit with two initials whose observance is all the more sensual for being somehow repressed, and set him aloose on the pre-war countryside, okay? I'm easy.

The climactic action of this book is when a kid rips up a shrub, yet, I liked it.

Algernon (Darth Anyan)

"Was there a telephone here in your day?"
"No," I replied. "It might have made a great difference if there had been."

Leo Colston, a man in his sixties, returns in 1952 to the place where his life began ... and ended ... all of it during a brief interlude of glorious summer days, such as England, and Master Leo, has never seen since. With the help of the intimate journal he kept during his 1900 journey to Brandham Hall in Norwich County, Leo Colston re-examines the events that had such a traumat
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
There is, of course, the great opening line: The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there. And there is the magnificent cover, with just the perfect adolescent male face; even the green color is important, it turns out. There is also the very useful, if unfortunately positioned 'Author's Introduction'. Hartley quickly and explicitly expresses his debt to Proust and posits that an author, though wedded to the present, writes better when reflecting on the past, where impressions ...more
Emily May
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2020
“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”

There can be no other quote to open my review with but the famous first line of The Go-Between.

This is a very beautiful little book in which a man reminisces about his youth and one summer in particular when he went to stay at his schoolmate’s manor house, Brandham Hall. It's filled with a bittersweet nostalgia and Hartley really captures youthful enthusiasm, innocence and naivete through Leo. There's a sense of both longing a
“Do you remember what that summer was like? – how much more beautiful than any since?” This made for perfect heatwave reading over the past couple of weeks: very English and very much of the historical period that it evokes, it is a nostalgic work remembering one summer when everything changed.

Summer 1900, Norfolk. Twelve-year-old Leo Colston is invited to spend the several July weeks leading up to his birthday at his school friend Marcus Maudsley’s home, Brandham Hall. Although the fatherless b
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to GoodReads friend CQM for his review of 'The Go-Between' which was a big part of what inspired me to read this.

L.P. Hartley’s 'The Go-Between' takes place in the long hot Summer of 1900, and tells of how young Leo, staying with Marcus, a school friend, at the aristocratic Brandham Hall, begins to act as a messenger between Ted, the farmer, and Marian, Marcus's beautiful young sister. Leo narrates the events in 1952, as a mature adult looking back.

'The Go-Between' was an immediate succe
This is a novel written in the 1950s about the English Victorian world of the turn of the 20th century. It is told by a much older Leo Colston from his “box of memories” and concerns the summer of 1900 when, as a youth of thirteen, he spends much of the summer at the residence of his classmate, Martin Maudsley. Martin is of the upper class. Leo is not (but few in the story are aware of his family background). The Maudsleys live at Brandham Hall in Norfolk, England.

Through Leo’s memories, we ar
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 much more could 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
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century, british
It's been a long time since I've been so flummoxed by a book that it leaves me (almost) without words.

One part of my mind says this: I like the writing well enough, and Hartley seems to spin a well-constructed story; and for the most part, it isn't objectionable.

The other part says this: I hated it with undefinable passion.

I wondered, what did I really dislike? I didn't like the pretentious little prig who was nothing but a little blusterer with an inflated sense of self. In his defence, one c
Parthiban Sekar
Evocative, poignant, and beautiful!

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” It is only fair to begin with this sentence which ruefully announces that things have now changed, however not without a sigh of relief. Nostalgia can sometimes be like an unopened letter which allures us to open it, but when we open and finish reading it, a pang of guilt makes us regret our decision. Now, Leo Colston is met with one such situation in his sixties and his source of guilt lies uno
Peter Boyle
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This is one of the those classic novels that has been gathering dust on my shelves for what seems like forever, so I finally decided to give it a whirl.

The story is told by Leo, a middle-aged man looking back on the fateful summer of 1900, when he was twelve years old. He accepts an invitation to spend a few weeks with the family of Marcus Maudsley, one of his school chums. The Maudsleys live in Brandham Hall, a grand country house in Norfolk, and the middle class Leo is totally unaccustomed to
Dec 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is an unusually hot English summer in 1900. Sweltering temperatures echo simmering passions behind a facade of rules, manners and decorum. Twelve year old Leo spends his summer holidays visiting a school friend at his home, Brandham Hall.

Leo is out of his class and out of his depth. He feels unworthy and insecure as he tries to integrate himself into family affections. Intoxicated by their party lifestyle, he is manipulated with charm and his schoolboy innocence is used as a means of deceit.
Vanessa Wu
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most perfect novels ever written. It has many layers and levels, thanks to its brilliant narrative structure of an old man recollecting a tragic love story he witnessed in intense close up as a young boy. It is a rare case of a complex narrative structure actually being necessary for the proper exposition of the plot. For the story is not just about what happened when the narrator was a boy, but how it changed his life as a man and how, towards the end of his life, writing abo ...more
Doug H
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful punch in the stomach.
Tanja Berg
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was in Vienna on holiday last week, browsing for German reads or translations from languages other than English. Out of nowhere one of the employees slipped this book onto my pile. “This publisher only releases books that have moved the owner”. I saw it was a translation from English, but shrugged and bought it nonetheless.

I’m finished now and I want to lie down in bed, bawl my eyes out and never read a book again because nothing will ever make me feel this way again.

“The past is a foreign c
Jul 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The household will be happy to have my attention again. It hasn't seen a flicker of it since I started reading this book. I've seen the movie. Liked it very much. Yet even knowing what was going to happen, the story in the book still felt new to me. That's a quality in the writing; it's the kind that makes everything new. And by the end of the book, the crystalline narration , that is never precious, had made his memories, my memories. I haven't had a narrator do that since Nick Carraway. And th ...more
MJ Nicholls
Note: This review is from October 2nd 2007 when the reviewer was a spotty man-boy of twenty. Excuse the gaucheness herein.

Hugh Might Enjoy This

Lord up on high, save me from the woeful sound of old people having sex.

It was March 4th 1996 and the occasion was a brief stopover in a B&B during an enthralling coach trip from Dunbartonshire and Clydebank. Those are cities in Scotland, kind reader—of little import to this brief introduction—so we need not trouble ourselves with them at this juncture. T
Another coming-of-age, loss-of-innocence novel that will undoubtedly be familiar to and especially appreciated by people who liked Atonement. For whatever reason, Atonement didn't work for me, but this one did.

The majority of the story takes place in England in the summer of 1900, but Hartley brings that alive in a way that makes it familiar to someone like me who has never set foot (yet) in England or lived during the summer of 1900. It's not hard to forget the summers of our own childhoods on
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
The first line of this book brought familiarity, but reading further I realized that I had positively read this book before. Possibly in my late 20's, and no earlier than that, I am sure. And what strikes home the most NOW on reaction to this read, is that I was so much more sympathetic with our go-between then, than I am now in my own age.

It's his older, 60 plus years, self that I find problematic. The child going to man, I can fully understand and sympathize. Especially with the death events
Apr 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has shot into my top ten of all time. Why this has drifted out of fashion I don't know, most people will know the opening line, many judging by other reviews on here know the movie too but the book... Oh my, the book...
The mood is one of melancholy as a man in his 60's looks back on the summer of 1900, the summer of his 13th birthday. Leo is staying at a Norfolk country house with his school friend Marcus and Marcus' family.
Essentially it is a story of a life wasted and the reasons why
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great quote from this book:"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there." ...more
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Julian Assange
Shelves: nyrb, fiction, own
The novel opens with the narrator, Leo Colston, now in his 60s, reminiscing about the summer of 1900 when at age twelve he spent a month at a large country estate with his wealthy school chum, Marcus Maudsley, and Marcus's sophisticated and pretty older sister Marian. Marian is having a very illicit affair with a local tenant farmer, Ted Burgess. Leo becomes complicit in the affair as Marian and Ted use him to ferry messages between them. Also present is the young facially disfigured war veteran ...more
Mar 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This has been my second reading of "The Go-Between," my first having been probably some fifteen years ago. I was a little nervous that the book itself might not live up to my memory of it. I needn't have been. It is one of a handful of books that gets a childhood/adolescent point of view spot on. Andre Aciman's "Call Me By Your Name," Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," Truman Capote's "Other Voices, Other Rooms," Haven Kimmel's "A Girl Named Zippy," Ann Marie McDonald's "The Way the Crow Flie ...more
Not the chap from the Yellow Pages ad. That was J.R. Hartley.

The Go-Between is a book of high summer, set in a hot July (in the year 1900) - but which I was prompted to read now, a little late in the season, after noticing a basic similarity with The Line of Beauty. (Also having decided to read some of the unread 1001 Books novels I own.) I loved the Hollinghurst so much I wanted to read bits of it again straight away, but knowing this is usually just a good way of making myself bored of a
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started this book a number of days ago and felt like it was opening a cedar chest where old things have been stored to keep away the moth.
You see what too much winter weather can do to one's sensibilities? Well, to overcome this nonsensical reaction I found the 2015 movie on Amazon Prime to watch and loved it. First of all I love stories that feature a young man, in this case he is 12 years about to have a birthday. Leo is invited by a school friend to spend a summer month at a lovely country
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Reading 1001: The Go-Between by L.P. Harley 3 16 Dec 04, 2020 10:13PM  
Play Book Tag: [trim] The Go-Between | LP Hartley | 5 stars 4 18 May 31, 2019 07:40AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Corrections 3 14 Feb 03, 2019 12:09PM  
Bright Young Things: The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley 34 44 Nov 26, 2017 02:08PM  
NYRB Classics: The Go-Between, by L.P. Hartley 2 28 Oct 23, 2013 04:33PM  

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Full name: Leslie Poles Hartley.

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“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” 798 likes
“If my twelve-year-old self, of whom I had grown rather fond, thinking about him, were to reproach me: 'Why have you grown up such a dull dog, when I gave you such a good start? Why have you spent your time in dusty libraries, catologuing other people's books instead of writing your own? What had become of the Ram, the Bull and the Lion, the example I gave you to emulate? Where above all is the Virgin, with her shining face and curling tresses, whom I entrusted to you'- what should I say?

I should have an answer ready. 'Well, it was you who let me down, and I will tell you how. You flew too near to the sun, and you were scorched. This cindery creature is what you made me.'

To which he might reply: 'But you have had half a century to get over it! Half a century, half the twentieth century, that glorious epoch, that golden age that I bequeathed to you!'

'Has the twentieth century,' I should ask, 'done so much better than I have? When you leave this room, which I admit is dull and cheerless, and take the last bus to your home in the past, if you haven't missed it - ask yourself whether you found everything so radiant as you imagined it. Ask yourself whether it has fulfilled your hopes. You were vanquished, Colston, you were vanquished, and so was your century, your precious century that you hoped so much of.”
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