If you remember the 70’s film starring Julie Christie but never read the book then you missed the brilliance of JP Hartley’s The Go-Between on which the film was based.
I came across the book in the delightfully eclectic English section of the Bordighera Library here in Italy. Its somewhat dog-eared paper back edition evidently dated from the release of the movie, its cover a still from the film rang bells for me although I had no recollection of either the story or of seeing the movie.
All the tips I read about submitting a manuscript emphasise the importance of the first paragraph, those initial sentences that immediately draw you in. Here the Prologue takes you right in to the dairy of the protagonists youth. Those events he re discovers recorded in the pages form the basis for the book. For me it is outstanding and one of the best first paragraphs I have read. I laughed ruefully at his comment, his doubts over even bothering to re write and publish it all in story form.
‘I take myself much too seriously of course. What does it matter to anyone what I was like, then or now?’
In fact I laughed often reading the book, his boyish ingenuousness, his artlessness his innocence were sheer delight. Each scene described absorbed transported, the film was in my minds eye perhaps more surely than had I seen the film.
The dedication I quote here resonated so exactly with the project of my own story, the big one I plan to recount, that it was more than coincidence, it bordered on an omen.
‘When you leave this room, which I admit is dull and cheerless, and take the last bus to your home in the past, if you haven’t missed it- ask yourself whether you found everything as radiant as you imagined it. Ask yourself whether you fulfilled your dreams.’