My Friday Post: Harriet Said by Beryl Bainbridge

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Every Friday Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Gillion at Rose City Reader where you can share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. Harriet Said...

My opener this week is from Harriet Said by Beryl Bainbridge. I’ve enjoyed all of Beryl Bainbridge’s books that I’ve read so far, so I’m keen to read this one – the first book she wrote and submitted for publication in 1958. However, it was rejected because of its content and was not published until 1972. It is set just after the war in a Liverpool suburb near the Formby sand dunes where Beryl Bainbridge grew up.

It begins:

When I came home for the holidays, Harriet was away with her family in Wales. She had written to explain it was not her fault and that when she came back we would have a lovely time.

Also every Friday there is The Friday 56, hosted by Freda at Freda’s Voice.


These are the rules:

  1. Grab a book, any book.
  2. Turn to page 56, or 56% on your eReader.
  3. Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grabs you.
  4. Post it.
  5. Add the URL to your post in the link on Freda’s most recent Friday 56 post.

Page 56:

We rode the roundabouts, shrieking among the painted horses, riding endlessly round and round, waiting for the Tsar to come.

Blurb (from Goodreads):

Two schoolgirls are spending their holiday in an English coastal town: Harriet is the older at 14 and the leader of the two. The 13-year-old unnamed narrator develops a crush on an unhappily married middle-aged man, Peter Biggs, whom they nickname “the Tsar.” Led by pretty, malevolent Harriet they study his relationship with his wife, planning to humiliate him. Their plan quickly goes wrong, however, with horrifying results.

13 thoughts on “My Friday Post: Harriet Said by Beryl Bainbridge

  1. I read this book many years ago in my youth and really loved. I don’t remember the plot anymore, only that there was a spooky undertone in the book and you did not know where it led. I must read it again. I always intended to read more Bainbridge, but somehow did not come around. Maybe this is the time.


  2. Oh, sounds intriguing, Margaret. And that’s an interesting meme, too. I hope you’ll enjoy the novel, and I hope you’ll post a review when you’ve read it.


  3. I’m curious about the fact that it was submitted in 1958 and not published until 1972. That’s a long time. Sounds like a psychological thriller – how very current! LOL


  4. This is one of my favorite Bainbridge books. Like much of Bainbridge’s work, it’s very elliptical, hinting at much while saying little outright. For those who don’t know (possible spoiler), the basic plot was inspired by the same murder as the one that was the basis of the movie “Heavenly Creatures”. Mystery writer Anne Perry was actually one of the girls involved. My guess is the subject matter was considered quite repulsive in the straight-laced 1950s, but was deemed more acceptable by the more freewheeling 1970s.


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