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A Truly Memorable Book
on 3 March 2017
This is a gem of an example of the writer gradually building up very subtle references which bit by bit accumulate for the reader without their realising it. It is a long hot summer, the temperature is building up in every sense: you know that something will implode in the end. We are in 1900, when some things that are socially acceptable now,were not so then. Marian, the girl at the Hall,conducts her affair with the local farmer with discretion. The story unfolds through the eyes of Leo, the 12 -year-old visitor to the Hall, who is presented as a greenhorn. He is symbolically bought a green suit. He is also Robin Hood, the ultimate altruist. He is the go-between of the title, carrying messages between the lovers in an affair that is socially forbidden. It is a great pity that the book is remembered for its opening line ("the past is a foreign country; they do things differently there") as it is not the best quotation. I liked Leo's response when asked if he could keep secrets: "I was a natural oyster."
When Leo as an adult visits the now elderly Marian (a plot device I found rather artificial) she says "there is no spell or curse except an unloving heart," and you are left wondering if she is referring to her own mother Mrs Maudesley and the extreme reaction to that affair so long before. A truly memorable book