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Harriet Said.... Paperback – 30 Jan 1992


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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (30 Jan 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014015695X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140156959
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,466,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

An extremely original and disconcerting story (Daily Telegraph)

A sharp, chilling novel . . . The ending has real shock effect (Sunday Times)

Compelling, horrifying, dramatic . . . [a] Molotov cocktail of teenage insecurity and dangerously partial understanding of maturity (Evening Standard) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The classic novel - the first she ever wrote - by acclaimed, Man Booker Prize-winning author Beryl Bainbridge, Harriet Said... is a dark and gripping story of adolescent transgression set in a 1950s seaside resort. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susie B TOP 50 REVIEWER on 28 July 2013
Format: Paperback
Narrated in the first person by a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl (whose name we never learn) 'Harriet Said...' is the gripping story of two sexually precocious teenagers, set shortly after the end of the Second World War. At the beginning of this unsettling tale, our narrator returns from boarding school to her quiet, very ordinary Merseyside home, where she waits impatiently to be reunited with her childhood friend Harriet, whom, we are led to believe, is the dominant partner of the two, and the instigator of past misdemeanours.

Both Harriet (the more confident, attractive and flirtatious of the two girls) and our narrator (a plump, pale-skinned, frizzy-haired girl) have already discovered their sexual power over men, and they have decided that this summer they intend to use this power to manipulate and humiliate a middle-aged unhappily married man, nicknamed the Tsar, who has shown that he is sexually attracted to our thirteen-year-old narrator. But who is ultimately more damaged as a result - the teenage girls or the middle-aged man?

Beryl Bainbridge's debut novel, which was first written in the 1950s but, due to its content, refused publication until 1972 (when it was acclaimed as a minor masterpiece), is a dark, horribly fascinating and deeply disconcerting story which left me thinking about the possible repercussions for some time after I had finished it. It would be interesting to discuss this story further, but as I cannot do so without spoiling the story for prospective readers, I won't say anything further - however I will just mention that I think most readers will be surprised or, perhaps, even rather shocked by the ending.

4 Stars.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on 18 Nov 2002
Format: Paperback
"Harriet Said", by Ms. Beryl Bainbridge is an amazing study of two young women and how mischief is just the beginning of a trip that ends with what we would hope was madness. Hope is wishful thinking, for there is nothing in the pasts of these young girls to justify their increasingly bizarre behavior, nor does the balance of what we are exposed to suggest justification.

I have not yet read all of this Author's work, however aberrant and shockingly cruel behavior is not unusual. This time is very different for the players involved are only 13 and 14 years of age. The title suggests that one girl leads the other blindly in a sort of singular sort of peer pressure. However this is not case, for there is very little pressure and certainly no coercion. Additionally strange is that the younger of the two is the catalyst if one is chosen.

The time period is not long after WWII, and the behavior that is at the root of events is the girls' awareness and willingness to use their very young selves to manipulate men. The youngest mentioned is 19, and the eldest the better part of 60. The other twisted aspect is that while we experience their actions while they are of the ages that I mentioned, they clearly began their adventures at an earlier age.

There is nothing in the book that is physically graphic, or gratuitous in a puerile sense. The Author communicates just how frightening these girls are by sharing only their thoughts and those they record together in a shared diary. Their actions, when they take place, have been introduced to a degree by this written document they co-author. This is a very dangerous story of two children that if handled by a lesser Author would have been just a tabloid tale. In Ms.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Yet another exquisite BB novel. If you read when it was actually published, it is shockingly contempory story,but as usual' its the quirky,wittly observant way BB deals with the plot line that is the gem. It has pathos and an emotional intelligence that for me makes it one of her best .
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Terrifying Teens 3 Aug 2001
By taking a rest - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Harriet Said", by Ms. Beryl Bainbridge is an amazing study of two young women and how mischief is just the beginning of a trip that ends with what we would hope was madness. Hope is wishful thinking, for there is nothing in the pasts of these young girls to justify their increasingly bizarre behavior, nor does the balance of what we are exposed to suggest justification.
I have not yet read all of this Author's work, however aberrant and shockingly cruel behavior is not unusual. This time is very different for the players involved are only 13 and 14 years of age. The title suggests that one girl leads the other blindly in a sort of singular sort of peer pressure. However this is not case, for there is very little pressure and certainly no coercion. Additionally strange is that the younger of the two is the catalyst if one is chosen.
The time period is not long after WWII, and the behavior that is at the root of events is the girl's awareness and willingness to use their very young selves to manipulate men. The youngest mentioned is 19, and the eldest the better part of 60. The other twisted aspect is that while we experience their actions while there are of the ages that I mentioned, they clearly began their adventures at an earlier age.
There is nothing in the book that is physically graphic, or gratuitous in a puerile sense. The Author communicates just how frightening these girls are by sharing only their thoughts and those they record together in a shared diary. Their actions, when they take place, have been introduced to a degree by this written document they co-author. This is a very dangerous story of two children that if handled by a lesser Author would have been just a tabloid tale. In Ms. Bainbridge's hands these girls and others like them are so frightening because they could be any child on your street, or worse a child in your house. If not for its realism this could be passed off as a horror story, however this is more like a lengthy article on true events.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Harriet Said... 23 July 2012
By Dolce Bellezza - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
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 through her eyes. We only see that this friend is stout, clumsy, and so enraptured by Harriet, and what she says, that she follows Harriet's every plan.

This summer, Harriet has decided that they will "humble the Tsar", a meek and married man with whom our narrator becomes purposefully involved. They are two thirteen year old girls, who have little idea of the repercussions their behavior would have. The results of their game with the Tsar has disastrous results, and the reader is left wondering if perhaps youth is not so innocent after all.

The novel is written under an exquisite shroud of sorts, slowly revealing each facet of the plot such that one discovers this novel is actually a horror story. I found Beryl Bainbridge to resemble Daphne du Maurier, and even Shirley Jackson, by taking ordinary themes and making them dark and terrible. Some reviewers have called it an "evocation of childhood", but I would go so far as naming it what it is: wicked manipulation. It would make a perfect autumnal read.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A Bit Creepy 3 Jan 2012
By Lady Detektive - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A claustrophobic tale of a friendship deeply enmeshed in admiration, power, and the ability to twist things to one's liking. The details are almost excruciating for such a small novel, and the final act of violence is surprising. Fans of slow to boil, compact, vintage (late 50's-early 60's Britain) thrillers should give this one a go.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great read 8 Jan 2011
By Patricia A. Hamilton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read a review about the author and the book in "Writer's Almanac" and was moved to read it. The story line was a bit surprising and the style was a ittle different than I am used to reading, but anyone who consdiers themselves well read should certainly read this book. In considertaion of the time and era it was written as well as thr style of the author it is a rather "naughty" little story.
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