A Game of Hide and Seek by Elizabeth Taylor was published in 1951 and I was lucky enough to find an old Book Club copy with a perfect dust jacket which I think is lovely, but I’m drawn to covers that feature a house.
Harriet and Vesey are teenagers who have been friends since early childhood. Harriet’s mother’s best friend is Vesey’s aunt and he spends a lot of time with his aunt and uncle as his mother isn’t exactly the caring type. Harriet’s mother and Vesey’s aunt had been suffragettes who had even ended up being imprisoned in their young days. Harriet’s mother had believed that as women had got the vote then her daughter would be able to do anything she wanted, maybe become a doctor or judge. But as Harriet wasn’t good at passing exams she had ended up by being a huge disappointment to her mother.
Harriet has always been in love with Vesey but he blows hot and cold and she ends up getting married to Charles, a man much older than she is, more to get away from her ever disapproving mother than for any other reason. Charles is a damaged soul having been jilted at the altar previously and his mother can never let him forget it. Harriet and Charles have a daughter Pauline and the mother – daughter relationship isn’t any better than that which had been between Harriet and her mother.
It all goes a bit Brief Encounter-ish (actually mentioned in the book) when years later Harriet and Vesey meet up again and start seeing each other. Vesey has become an actor but his career hasn’t been a success. Harriet is ready to pick up the relationship where it left off in their teenage days – it’s not going to be good for anyone involved.
This book came after Elizabeth Taylor’s ‘widely acclaimed’ Wreath of Roses which I read decades ago so I can’t compare them now, but it is certainly a good read.