This week I review The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley, a novel about a young boy who acts as a messenger between two lovers set in 1900, and Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, a play I’m not sure anyone really knows what to make of.
The Go-Between by LP Hartley
The Go-Between is a coming-of-age novel set in 1900 during the Boer War. It takes place primarily in Norfolk (where I am currently residing) from the point of view of Leo, a young boy who is staying at a friend’s for the summer. Whilst there, he unwillingly becomes involved in an exchange of letters between Marian, the daughter of the household, and Ted, a nearby farmer.
Contrary to most of my uni friends, I actually enjoyed TGB. I liked the way it was written, and I liked the time period it was set in. The prologue and epilogue of older Leo also added immensely to the plot. It might be seen as unrealistic that a 12-13 year old boy (he ages during the book) can record so well in a diary and an older Leo can remember so clearly (from 1900-1953 ish) but then again, there wouldn’t be a book otherwise.
I would suggest this book, but it’s not an incredible adventure. It is definitely a coming-of age story, but a dark and twisted one at that. It’d be great for a book club, though.
Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
Waiting for Godot is…. a rather unusual play. Basically: nothing happens. We are introduced to two characters called Vladimir and Estragon who are waiting for a person called Godot. Along comes two other characters: Pozzo and Lucky, the former who is the ‘master’ over the latter. A lot of incoherent jabbling later, you end up closing the book without entirely knowing what just happened.
I would say that this play is about time becoming meaningless. Vladimir and Estragon can’t remember what they did yesterday, even though the audience know it’s the exact same thing they are doing today, and likely the exact same thing they will also do tomorrow. They are clearly well associated with each other and are intimate, but there is also an anger between them that implies they have become frustrated.
It’s a very odd play to read. Perhaps about time eating away at us? Time becoming meaningless? Us changing with or running out of time? I think it’s up to your own interpretation, but any which way you read it will likely be interesting.