The Elizabeth Taylor Centenary has celebrated four novels this year, so far.
May marks our reading of A Game of Hide and Seek.
Published in 1951 in England, Elizabeth Bowen’s review of the novel reads like this:
“Two masterpiece love stories in our language, Persuasion and Wuthering Heights, have been written by women, but long ago: they await successors in our day. Still more, they await a successor; a single book which shall merge the elements in those two.”
Well, now, that gets a readers hopes up, doesn’t it. But Bowen takes a step back.
“To suggest that A Game of Hide and Seek fills this gap might both embarrass the author and by making an exaggerated claim for it, injure the novel.”
However, Elizabeth Bowen had read this book in manuscript and had written to the author to say that it was the book of hers that she liked best.
Though her fifth to be published, A Game of Hide and Seek may have been Elizabeth Taylor’s twentieth or twenty-fifth to be written; she had known from a very young age that she wanted to be a writer.
And Elizabeth Bowen was not the only writer to believe that this novel was its author’s finest.
Bowen’s review continues:
“Soberly speaking, however, it is not too much to say that A Game of Hide and Seek has something of the lucid delicacies of Persuasion, together with, at moments, more than a touch of the fiery-icy-strangeness of Wuthering Heights. The characters are of less high voltage than Emily Brontë’s, on the other hand, they dare and envisage much that Jane Austen could not.”
Whether one agrees or disagrees with these statements, Elizabeth Taylor’s work does rest in a tradition of English writing which casts a light on everyday life for ordinary people, on marriage and sex roles, on romance and innocence, on loneliness and betrayal. If you haven’t yet tried her work, this would make an excellent place to start.
The discussion will begin officially on Monday, May 7th. Tomorrow and Friday there will be posts on other works of hers (in between my thoughts on Alice Munro’s short story “Royal Beatings”). You can also check other readers’ thoughts on her works on Laura’s Elizabeth Taylor Centenary link pages — and add your own as well.)
Let’s see how many want to join in, but I have tentatively reserved Mondays in May for Elizabeth Taylor chatter. There is much to be said about this novel in Nicola Beauman’s The Other Elizabeth Taylor. We can chat about that, too, and Beauman believes that this novel is Taylor’s homage (conscious or unconscious) to Chekov’s “The Lady and the Dog” (1899) and was also influenced by the film “Brief Encounter”.
With that in mind, is anyone else interested in reading this classic story to see what inspired Nicola Beauman’s statement? Anyone eager to watch (or re-watch) “Brief Encounter”? A watch-a-long later in the month, perhaps?
Come on, who wants to play A Game of Hide and Seek?