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A Game Of Hide And Seek (VMC) Paperback – 1 Oct 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (1 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844086194
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844086191
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.1 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 72,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

The unsung heroine of British 20th-century fiction. Elizabeth Taylor wrote 12 novels, and each displays her exquisitely light touch, her firt for discreet irony and her skill at revealing the emotional depths behind even the meekest exterior. She is at her very best here, a novel in which love is never declared, but is meticulously evoked. No writer has described the English middle classes with more gently devastating accuracy (Rebecca Abrams, SPECTATOR)

Book Description

Taylor is one of the hidden treasures of the English novel' Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
"A Game of Hide-and-Seek", first published in 1951, opens in the 1920s. Harriet and Vesey are two teenagers playing the game with their young charges:

"They could not run fast across those uneven fields; nor did they wish to, since to find the hiding children was to lose their time together, to run faster was to run away from one another. The jog-trot was a game devised from shyness and uncertainty. Neither dared to assume that the other wished to pause and inexperience barred them both from testing this."

Harriet is kind and shy whilst Vesey hides his insecurity with selfishness and cruelty. The game with which the book opens is played, in one form or another, throughout their lives which are marked by regret, repression, and things unsaid.

Elizabeth Taylor is a quiet writer, completely in control of her material. A character or a situation can be captured in one perfect sentence. For example a bad repertory performance of "Hamlet" is described thus: "Scene after scene, shot with loveliness, threadbare with use, had lumbered by". Taylor's writing can be both very funny and achingly sad, and her description was such that I felt post-war England being built up street by street in vivid detail.

This is a book that rewards attention since its deceptively simple prose is filled with subtle ironies, implications, and connections. The narrative moves in fits and starts with much action happening off-stage (perhaps another allusion to the title). I agree with another reviewer that this didn't feel as tight as "A Wreath of Roses", and thinking about the book as a whole it seems elusive, not forming a coherent entity. This lack of unity, however, is also a reflection of life which, as the book shows, does not always unroll in a neat satisfying way.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
The novel is a love story, and not a happy one, but it is also extremely funny. The main characters, Harriet and Vesey, conduct a love affair mainly in his absence over a period of perhaps fifteen years. In the meantime Harriet takes a job in a gown shop (yes, "gown," not "dress") and marries an older man, Charles, who knows a little about Vesey, just enough to feel constantly undermined by him. The part of the novel dealing with the shop is especially hilarious, with the antics of the other assistants.
Vesey, effete and ineffective, is yet somehow a powerful character who exerts his influence not only over Harriet and Charles, but over their daughter as well. In fact, the daughter is convinced that Vesey is her real father. He is perceived always as a malign influence, whereas the truth is that he never quite has the energy to achieve anything, not even adultery with Harriet.
The minor characters, like Charles' mother Julia, are excellent. Julia is a former actress and a great drama queen still - quite a nasty piece of work. At one point she makes a reference to the film "Brief Encounter," which is unlike any other you will come across. The former suffragette Caroline and her husband Hugo, who had spent 1914-18 as a Rupert Brooke replica, are also very funny. Caroline is alarmingly principled and is self-righteous; Hugo is resigned: "He knew she was a good wife, though a bore." The principles in this case revolve around a nut-rissole, Caroline being of course a vegetarian.
The novel's end is ambiguous, and I have never been able to decide "what happens."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 6 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback
A Game of Hide and Seek, published in 1951 and recently republished as a New York Review Book Classic, is one of author Elizabeth Taylor's most intensely psychological novels, the story of two young people - Harriet and Vesey - who spend their time in self-imposed isolation, their paths crossing briefly when, as teenagers they find themselves sharing summer vacations. Though they sometimes use hide-and-seek games so they can be together while they wait for the younger children in the family to find them, they are, shy, innocent, and self-conscious. They end up "hiding" in the loft or the barn "among old pots of paint, boxes of bulbs, stacks of cobwebbed deck-chairs, rather far apart and in silence...The only interruption was when one of them timidly swallowed an accumulation of saliva."

From this inauspicious beginning of the novel, which is further complicated for the reader because the first thirty pages of the novel "tell about" the past with little dialogue to enliven it, the author develops the relationship between Harriet and Vesey over the next thirty years. As a teenager enamored of Vesey but unsure of herself and of him, she obsesses over a quick kiss he gives her as he prepares to go on to school and invents stories of meeting him secretly, as she writes in her diary in excruciating detail about every action or movement he makes. Vesey, too, is also isolated, but his reaction when he is in school is the opposite of Harriet's. Instead of being timid, he becomes "disruptive, cheeky...and the same sort of little monkey that he had been at home." His disappearance part way through the summer on their last year together is devastating to Harriet.

The novel divides into two parts.
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