Elizabeth Taylor – the other one – published ‘A Game of Hide and Seek’, her fifth novel, in 1951.
Harriet and Vesey meet as teenagers: she is weak-willed and passive; he is thoughtless and neglectful. She falls in love with him anyway.
He disappears from her life, and, after working as a shop assistant, she marries Charles, a solicitor some years older.
Their daughter, Betsy, is fifteen when her mother and Vesey meet again. He is a struggling actor and has mellowed.
Their love is rekindled, but is it too late, too socially difficult, belatedly to find happiness together?
Such a melancholy little book, which left me in a state of dejection.
Everyone is compromised, even crippled, by their gaping character flaws.
All are trapped by the stifling morality of small-town, middle class England, still more suffocating in the late 1940s than 20 years earlier.
The ending is uncertain, but one thing is certain: it can’t be a happy ending.
Taylor is rightly celebrated as an excellent novelist, underrated in her lifetime. This is powerful work – not War and Peace, admittedly – but still essential reading.