The Go-Between Background

The Go-Between Background

The Go-Between is a novel written by L.P. Hartley in 1953. The story revolves around the character of Leo Colston, who is an elderly man perusing his old diary. He comes across the time when he was 13 and visited his schoolfriend's country home. Whilst visiting, he became a 'Go-Between' for his schoolfriend's sister, Marian Maudsley and the local farmer Ted Burgess. Leo would carry messages between the two, too naive to understand what the messages contained. Leo however later discovers the sexual nature of the relationship between Marian and Ted and tries to stop being their 'Go-Between' as their relationship will never work due to Ted being from a lower social class than Marian. However, he faces pressure from Marian and Ted and continues to carry their letters. Marian's family discover the relationship and Ted commits suicide. Leo grows up being a lonely adult deeply scarred by the events. In the present day, Leo shuts the diary and goes to visit Marian once more.

The book was written by the author to explore the impact a taboo relationship can have on a messenger, involved in a secretive relationship. The author wanted to showcase how social classes used to divide people greatly and how innocent third parties could become entangled in a forbidden relationship.

The book was received well by critics and fans alike. In fact, Milton Merlin commented on the book in the Los Angeles Times, that it was "a superbly composed and an irresistibly haunting novel...". The book was also turned into a major feature film in 1971 of the same name.

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