L.P. Hartley - The Go-Between

A Tea with a Book Addict talk

“The past is another country: they do things differently there” – so begins the haunting novel The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. I think this is a stunning book. It is about class, illicit love, boyhood dreams versus cruel reality, and it movingly depicts growing up and the loss of innocence.

A subscriber-only Zoom talk was held in January. Don’t worry if you missed it. Subscribers automatically receive this video talk, please log in at the link below using the subscriber’s password.

Or you can go here to purchase the video it.

“a revelation of the childishness of social hierarchy, of human delusions of power, and of the tragedy inevitable where war or history and innocence meet, Hartley’s novel is a fine disquisition on appearance versus naked truth.”
― Ali Smith

A novel about illicit love

It is the summer of 1900, a new century is beginning and young Leo Colston’s life as an adult is about to begin too. At Bradham Hall school the boy finds himself being used as a go-between, delivering messages from Marian Maudsley to a nearby farmer called Ted Burgess. As he delivers notes written by the lovers, he gradually grows more aware of what is going on and becomes troubled by conflicting loyalties. The summer gets hotter and hotter and storms begin to brew, leading to an explosive climax, a discovery of the pair making love, a suicide and a breakdown for Leo himself.

A boy who is used and abused by those who should know better

Hartley was a prolific novelist, but his other books have not really lasted. The Go-Between has remained by far his most popular work, it has been filmed and put on stage, and is as relevant today as it was when first published in 1953.

Join me in an exploration of this modern classic – experience the heat of that summer of 1900, share the excitement of forbidden passion, and sympathise with a boy who is used and abused by those who should know better.

Get the book, watch the movie and more

Here is where to buy the books in print, ebook or audio. Find the books on my recommended reading list, watch a movie version, enjoy related videos, websites and much more. Have anything to add here? Let me know.

The Go-between by L.P. Hartley
Foreign country: The Life of L.P. Hartley by Adrian Wright
The Perfect Summer by Juliet Nicolson

Some free versions are better than others, please feel free to try these, but I cannot guarantee the quality.
The Go-Between – Internet Archive by L.P. Hartley Free downloadable version in various formats including Kindle, epub, pdf and others. If you are unsure of how to add these files to your ereader, look here.

FIND IN A LIBRARY (You will need to create an account and hold a library card.)
The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley National Library of Australia free public access to books in libraries at Trove.

YouTube playlist featuring the 1971 movie adaptation of The Go-Between

90 min. BBC Radio Drama adaptation of L.P. Hartley’s classic novel, The Go-Between

Purchase my Literary Reader’s Guide to L.P. Hartley & The Go-Between

Susannah, it was indeed fabulous. I had just read the book last week too so was right there with everything you said. Thank you.


Loved the session today on The Go-Between. Thank you. 


Excellent presentation as always. One of my favourite books – I hadn’t realised that LP Hartley was at Clifton in Bristol; where my father was at school. I saw the play in London in July 2016 with Michael Crawford (then aged 74) as the older Leo. 

Jennifer Dewar

I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed yesterday’s Tea with a Book Addict. I was lucky enough to be a student at Oxford in the late 1940s and every Friday during each eight week term Lord David Cecil would lecture on Shakespeare. This was in the Examination School, the largest auditorium available, and it was jam-packed with students from every faculty. We listened spellbound as he was a wonderful lecturer. 


I’ve just watched your video talk on The Go-Between. Wonderful! I had re-read it about six months ago, so it was lovely to have it fresh in my mind while listening to your talk. I have just finished reading The Hireling – a different but also enjoyable and thought-provoking novel.


I have just watched the video so just had to write and tell you what a 
pleasure it was. Looking forward to more.

Thank you so very much for this wonderful, wonderful insight into The Go-Between. It was such a pleasure to travel through L.P. Hartley’s life and writings. Loved it Susannah.

Thank you Susannah for giving us the opportunity (and the push) to read The Go Between. I so enjoyed this book and I had a wonderful time resading it. It was SO well written. I marvel at how astonishly good this book is. Now we have writers courses – how to write a novel etc – but, I’m guess that L.P. Hartley didn’t have these opportunities. I know he had been a journalist but to write with such ecomical skill where scenes and dialogue are so well enterwined is surely a great talent. Such a pleasure to read such a classic book. I look forward to the rest of the video series.


Thank you for introducing your readers to this absorbing, many layered book. … The tale of a misalliance between social classes and its inevitable disastrous denouement is both very English, and yet a story of the human condition with which we can all identify.

Discuss it with me

I hope you found L.P. Hartley’s moving exploration of a young boy’s loss of innocence as engrossing as I do. Let’s discuss it here.

Leave a comment.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until approved.
I only recommend books I have read or know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.
Featured image credit- Kasha Kropinski & Anneke Weidemann in The Story of an African Farm, 2004 Rodini Films movie adaptation, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0388441/

Comments (4)

  1. Jenny Gray

    I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading this novel, which I loved the first time around. Thank you for the enlightening talk and visuals. Now to watch the movie again, one of my favourites!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      It is a gorgeous novel, isn’t it. Do try and get the most recent film version – I really loved it.

  2. Jane Todd

    I’ve just watched your video talk on The Go-Between. Wonderful! I had re-read this about six months ago, so it was lovely to have it fresh in my mind while listening to your talk. I have just finished reading The Hireling – a different but also enjoyable and thought-provoking novel.

    I’m looking forward to the next talk!



    • Susannah Fullerton

      I am so glad you enjoyed the talk, Jane. It is a fabulous book. I must also re-read The Hireling and watch the film version again. So many books to get through!!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)