- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (6 April 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0747597081
- ISBN-13: 978-0747597087
- Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 22.5 x 3.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,238,742 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Spy Game Hardcover – 6 Apr 2009
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`Harding skilfully weaves together history, memory and imagination in this haunting and beautifully written novel' -- Daily Mail
`In her finely composed second novel, Harding conjures up the enigmatic home life of eight-year-old Anna Wyatt and her older brother Peter. An aching, delicate and affecting interpretation of loss and acceptance'
`Harding skilfully weaves together history, memory and imagination in this haunting and beautifully written novel'See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Anna, the narrator, remembers a `Monday in January during the Cold War'. She remembers `a sting in the air that touched closer than the kiss she gave me, which was no more than a brush of breath and powdered cheek' as she says good bye to her mother for the last time.
Georgina Harding's writing is perfect in its evocation of the feeling of the cold war years. The first section settles into the time after their mother's death; others are damaged in the post war years. Anna's best friend Susan has parents who were interned in a Japanese POW camp. Her music teacher escaped from Germany and the concentration camps. In the midst of the family tragedy Peter is sent off to boarding school. The children are considered too young to go to the funeral and Peter becomes convinced that his mother was a spy, bound up in the Portland affair which surfaced at the same time.
We recently had William Boyd's Restless where the narrator finds that her mother was in intelligence during the war. In this novel Peter and Anna play the 'Spy Game' as children, collecting evidence on their mother, fueled by the wish for her to be alive somewhere, even if not with them.
And then in the last section Anna, now past fifty investigates the mystery about their mother and finds all is not straightforward...
I thought Georgina Harding has done a masterly job with this novel. It is poignant in its exploration of loss, of a child's view of complex events and of the family's relationships. I found the story of Mrs Cahn, the piano teacher particularly moving.
A fine and gripping novel.
Set in the post-war years of the Cold War, Anna's mother goes out in the car in the fog, and she never sees her again. The same day, a spy case breaks in the news, and this leads Anna's brother Peter to wonder if she was a sleeper, a spy in deep-cover waiting to be called into action. He can't believe she died in a car accident - he's sure she's alive somewhere with a different identity.
Their mother was a refugee from eastern Germany - with no family left - that's all they know about her; their rather distant father prefers to disappear into his garden. This allows Peter to obsess about an alter ego for her - who she may have been meeting, what she may have been involved in. Anna is confused and feels her mother's loss strongly, but goes along with her brother's game. Eventually Peter goes off to boarding school, but he's still haunted by his imaginings. The children grow up, grow apart and start families of their own. When Anna's father dies, she feels a need for closure with her mother too, and plans to visit Konigsberg where she was born ...
This profound and subtle novel explores loss and letting go. You feel a little of what it was like to be a 'German' or Eastern European in England after the war, that slight strangeness and not quite fitting in, that led Peter's imagination into overload. Beautifully written, it takes its time getting to its conclusion, concentrating on the motherless siblings and how it affects their lives.
In January 1961, Anna's mother drives out of the driveway to head to an appointment in Oxford, and never comes home. Anna, only eight years old, accepts that her mother has died, and life goes on, in the quiet house with her father and brother who is often away at school. She has music lessons, from a woman who has escaped from the horrors of Europe in the War, and who lost all her family. She too has a sadness that Anna feels. Anna's brother, older than her, believes that their mother didn't die at all; but that there was something more sinister.
And so we read of Anna's childhood, her brother's growing into a sullen and suspicious young man, and her father, sad and somewhat distantly going through his life. And overlaid with this is Anna as an adult, jogged by her father's death into investigating further where her mother may have come from, and what the war may have meant to her and her life before meeting her husband in 1947.
This is a very introspective book, where we learn of life from the perspective only of Anna; her eight year old self and the few years following, and then her quest as an adult. We glimpse Peter, her brother who has grown up to have a life far away and who seems, as we read through the novel to have been the most like their mother. Anna's sensitiveness is more that of her father, and they both feel things deeply.
This is a wonderful story; a story of what was, what might have been, and what we could find if only we knew the right questions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One of the few books in this genre that failed to grip I abandoned it half way through.Published 16 months ago by N. Murray
Very disappointed in this book not at all what i was expecting found it a bit muddled with no real conclusion.Published 23 months ago by Julie Bartlett
Promises to be a great story. At the same time as the capture of a sleeper spy ring in the UK in the 1960s, a german born mother who disappears leaving her children believing she... Read morePublished on 5 Nov. 2014 by MMHS
This wasn’t a book I couldn’t put down, but it’s pace slowed me down and made for some very good reading just the same. Read morePublished on 8 July 2014 by Eileen Shaw
Set during the Cold War, this story tells of two children who try to come to terms with the grief of losing their mother. Read morePublished on 29 Aug. 2013 by F. Lane
I don't know why Georgina Harding isn't better known and more highly rated. She writes with awareness, compassion and intelligence. Read morePublished on 13 Aug. 2013 by Pedro
A beautifully written book about two children whose mother disappeared one foggy day and how it affected the rest of their lives. Read morePublished on 24 April 2013 by Amazon Customer