Cover Image: The Hiding Game

The Hiding Game

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I really enjoyed this exploration  of how the idealistic heart of the Bauhaus was lost, together with the unflinching look at unpalatable facts that many would wish forgotten.
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I loved the descriptions in this book, and I enjoyed learning more about Bauhaus, but overall I found it hard to engage emotionally with this book and its characters (positive or negative). I am grateful to NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.
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God. How do I begin to verbalise just how much I loved this book without it sounding too gushy? 

A superbly written novel with excellently flawed yet always human characters that are still in my mind now - weeks after reading. 

While having no prior knowledge of the Bauhaus movement, I did not feel this left me disadvantaged in any way. 

The settings were vivid, the characters experiences realistic and the ending left me reeling in ways I didn’t expect it to. 

A brilliant feat and a book that I have no doubt I will return to time and time again. I can’t let go of  Paul and Charlotte just yet....
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Interesting read for fans of the Bauhaus movement though I admit that I’m not an expert. Still found this an engaging and engrossing read
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With a setting like the Bauhaus, Naomi Wood's The Hiding Game could have extraordinary: a tour-de-force of colour and light. But instead, the end product didn't glimmer with any of them; felt instead flat and seeped of all feeling. Its protagonist, the self-aggrandising Paul Becker, had no concept of the world as it was around him: its horrors, its violence, its encroaching fascism. And, as such, acted in a way any man like that would: selfishly, arrogantly, coldly. And, as I am sure we can all agree, Nazi Germany had enough coldness all on its own.
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In post-war England Paul Brickman, formerly Beckermann, looks back on his years in the Bauhaus in the 20's and 30's with his group of 6 friends. Prompted by the invitation to the funeral of one of the gang. In the background there are the artist community with familiar names such as Paul Klee and Kandinsky, but also the rise of the Nazi's which makes the lives of the friends increasingly difficult. The rising intolerance towards anyone different, being Jewish, artist, foreign or homosexual threatens the friends not just as individuals, but also as a group. Some riding the waves of the changing tides, others struggling and drowning. However, the danger does not just come from the outside, but also from within. Peer pressure, secrets and lies, jealousy, and love all lead to destruction. We learn about the faith of some of the friends early on, but the changing dynamics within the group still make for a very interesting read.
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This was a luminous and utterly absorbing read. Brilliantly observed on all fronts. What it is to be a friend, a member of a group, an artist and to have witnessed Bauhaus, the Weimar Republic, and the Second World War in Germany.  But all with a lightness of touch and prose too dazzle. 

Early on I started taking a highlighter to phrases and ideas I thought particularly beautiful but then abandoned this when I realised I was just colouring in every page.  I loved the way the central ideas of Bauhaus itself are woven through the entire piece.  There was such authenticity in descriptions of the artworks by fictional characters they were rendered every bit as real and involving as those of living artists - in the vein of Siri Hustvedt.  But ultimately it is the characters and their stories of tragic loves and missed - and misunderstood - opportunities which will endure.  

With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to see an ARC of this title.
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An enjoyable read about 6 young people who meet at the Bauhaus (a modern art school in Germany) in between the first and second world wars.  They form a close group and the story links and follows their lives through good and bad times.
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This was great; readable, and a real page turner.  I really found myself intrigued from the first.  A great read, and one which I would recommend.
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A very interesting period of time in Germany between the 2 world wars. The people at the Bauhaus, being artists, were always going to be targeted as the Nazis gained power. However this story is told in such a disjointed way, without actually developing the characters and giving away the ending at the beginning, so it was not as good as it could have been
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Six students at an art school in 1920s Weimar play a little game where they hide something in their hand. They leave three-word clues, and the others try to guess what they are hiding. Of course, there are many other things to hide as well, and the story collects the clues to uncover what everyone is hiding.
Being in this time and place, we know there will be some Nazi connections, religious, sexual and political leanings that require secrecy. Mostly this is the story of young people and their relationships with each other, shifting as they mature and discover themselves and changing due to external factors that affect Germany as well as the rest of Europe. Trying times in both senses.

The story is told mainly from 1960s London as one of the six looks back on his life. A couple of the friends have died by this time and the cause of death is revealed slowly. In a similar fashion, there is a fight in the shower rooms with potential legal consequences and the truth of what happens comes out, again, slowly.  The art school is the famous Bauhaus, which originated in Weimar but had to relocate, and the layout of the buildings, the artistic challenges and events bring this school to life. The backdrop to the events between the two wars slides in details of the economy and upcoming depression, general public attitudes and rising dissatisfaction.

This period of European history continues to fascinate and it is refreshing to read about it from such an unusual angle. Creative people always make good characters even if they are quite unlikable, as in this book. I was looking forward to reading about the the avant garde artists from the Bauhaus, some of the character being actual people from history, although there parts are very fleeting, some just being mentioned.

It is written well, with some beautiful phrases, ('My meanness that April shocked my September self') although the telling of the story dominates the showing and the time jumps are mildly confusing at times, as the age of the characters is not clear. Most of the book 'passed in church like slowness' as the weather and fickleness of the friendships were the central features, while the wait is on for the secrets to reveal themselves.

The last part of the novel corresponds with the Nazis coming into power and the tensions rises, as it would for those living in Germany at that time. Some do not see the threat, some escape it. Here the narrator, looking back, faces his guilt: 'I already know my obsessions well.' The secret he is hiding, as with all of the characters, is that they are selfish, despite what they all tell themselves. This is not a love story.

Wood is a talented writer and her research is sound. However, this story is about young friends and the place in history seems like a passing feature. Disappointing if that is what draws you to this book. An original read nonetheless.
#NetGalley #TheHidingGame
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A brilliant book set at the Bauhaus art school during the 1920s and surrounding years. A great insight into the goings on in the art world during such a tumultuous time.
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I just loved this book. I am an English literature teacher who reads a lot of classic novels and this didn't feel out of place. It is beautifully written and highly evocative of the place and the era. It reminded me of Tartt's The Secret History and the narrative style was comparable with The Great Gatsby. I will recommend it for students studying the latter for wider reading.
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I really enjoyed The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood. I was interested in the history of the Bauhaus movement and this novel gave me a wonderful incite. The most overwhelming thing about this novel is the fact that we know what is to come. The story takes place during the build up to the Second World War and the treatment of the Jewish people and this makes it heartbreaking to read.
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The Hiding Game is set mostly in the period between the two World Wars at the Bauhaus art school. This was a time of great change in Germany, both politically and artistically. Paul Beckermann starts his study at Bauhaus in 1922, and forms one of a group of six friends. He falls in love with the unobtainable Charlotte, a young woman from Czechoslovakia, but she loves Jenö, who in turn is loved by Paul’s best friend Walter. It seems like an impossible love triangle (or even a square?!). These strong feelings lead to betrayal in a time that it was very easy to utterly destroy lives. The six friends drift apart, mainly out of necessity (Bauhaus was not liked at all by the traditionalists in the National Socialist party), but also they just couldn’t be together anymore. 

Paul, as an older man living in England, looks back at this period in his life and how it went tragically wrong. Not all of the six friends was as fortunate as he was. 

It’s a heartbreaking and also a suspenseful novel. Someone with only a limited knowledge of this period will know of the kind of tragedy that could befall people then. Paul’s guilt and sadness are palpable throughout the book, and I really felt for him. This isn’t really a book where the characters find some sort of forgiveness for themselves - there is none to find. Terrible things happened, and the survivors had to find a way to live with themselves afterwards. 

I loved the details about Bauhaus. I did some study on it during my German degree, and it filled in some gaps in my knowledge (there are quite a few gaps to fill when you did that degree 25 years ago!), and I’m always on the lookout for books set in Germany, especially those with a good helping of history (this has it in spades!). And for me, this really didn’t disappoint. I loved it, and I’ll be recommending it to friends (ex-German degree friends as well!). 

Many thanks to NetGalley and Picador for my copy of this wonderful book.
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You don't need to be interested in the art world of the Bauhaus days but, if so, this will be very interesting reading. Told in the first person narrative by one of the main characters the reader becomes involved in the personal lives and unfolding fears the Nazi regime was to bring upon this group of artists. With hindsight it is, of course, easy to question why on earth they didn't take seriously the warning signs - instead choosing to continue their lives as though no threat existed until it was too late.
As a fan of historical novels I found this angle made reasonably compelling reading but the writing style somehow didn't really hook me as I had hoped.

Thank you to NetGalley and Curtis Brown for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Paul Beckermann is a German artist who lives in London. When he hears about the death of one of his old art school friends, it leads him to think about his time at the Bauhaus in Weimar and Dessau and later his life in Berlin.  It's a great story if a little sluggish in the middle. Paul is a bit hard to like as he seem quite self centred and oblivious to how his friends are feeling or what they are thinking.
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LOVED LOVED LOVED this book! The idea of Bauhaus enticed me, but the characters kept me reading. This is one of those books which present a subject to you, then make you consider it a completely different way. The Bauhaus teaching style gave a refreshing perspective; I loved the concept of a full sensory experience of something to be able to capture the essence of it or the practices of fasting and suffering to ignite a visionary creative response. Very clever. The characters are rich and believable, relatable at times. Wood's writing would appeal greatly to those who enjoy books by Christopher Isherwood. It is a book you won't be able to put down.
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The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood is a glorious examination of history and humanity. Against a swirling backdrop of an economically broken Germany seemingly rescued by a fascist regime, we meet Paul, Charlotte, Walter, Jeno, Irmi and Kaspar, six friends studying at The Bauhaus Art School in the 1920s. This tight-knit group are painters, weavers and sculptors who are dedicated to their talents and push themselves to extreme lengths to achieve greatness. Their friendship forms the crux of the book as it ebbs and flows through love, deception and treachery in a Germany teetering on the edge of a seismic shift.

The Hiding Place reminded me of The Secret History in its depiction of a close friendship group and the power struggles that exist within it. The friendship forms the basis of the novel and we watch over a decade or so as they grow first together and then apart with alliances both made and broken.

I have a keen interest in this period of history having studied it at A Level so enjoyed reading about life in Germany at this time; wheelbarrows full of money to buy a loaf of bread, notes worth trillions used as kindling for the fire and the rise of the Nazi party breeding fear and suspicion are all touched upon. Naomi Wood’s depiction of the poverty and desperation mixed with the terror of the momentum of fascism seeps from the pages, tainting the actions of the characters and influencing their decisions. This is a turbulent Germany and it is a turbulent time in the lives of our six friends.

I have to admit to not knowing a great deal about The Bauhaus itself but Naomi Wood describes this close, immersive and spectacular place of art and beauty so vividly that I felt that I was there. It is an almost secretive, cult-like world with strange traditions and its omnipresence means it is almost a seventh character. Real artists are depicted in the novel lending it an authenticity and beautiful descriptions of weaving, metal work and painting further immerse the reader in The Bauhaus world.

Told from the point of view of Paul, we learn about The Bauhaus and the events that took place there via his memories and recollections. They make for painful reading especially as we learn more about Paul in his youth. I struggled to reconcile him with the man telling us his story, watching from the sidelines as he realises that love can be all-consuming and destructive. I love a dual narrative novel especially when written as well as this. The present day is marked with an air of melancholy and regret whilst the past has an air of sadness and loss. It is terrifically powerful and emotive writing.

Days after finishing The Hiding Place I am still thinking about it and desperately missing it. It is richly textured and immersive writing which I found powerful, emotional and devastating. It is a highly recommended read from me.
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Paul Beckermann is the narrator of this tale as he looks back on his life to his early years at the Bauhaus School in Weimar which he registered at as a pupil in 1922. First we should say he is created as one of a group of six fictional students who are placed in the genuine school, with genuine staff and teachers, with the evolving politics of both the area and the then Germany – the post war economic crash and the rise of Nazism and Hitler taking control of Germany with all the subsequent tropes, truths and crises of history. Bauhaus will move to Dessau, then Stieglitz near Berlin before being finally closed. Teachers not astute enough to run will end in the Camps.
The six pupils – from various places, the lads young (and lucky) enough to have avoided military service of the First War. All are interested in working in art, but choosing this highly unconventional place to study. They mix and are trained and influenced by some extremely creative and talented (albeit misogynistic) teachers. The novel will meld the impact of this together with the friendships of the six.  Paul a painter (not necessarily a valued thing in the creative setting of Bauhaus), Walter Koenig, Jeno, Kaspar, Irmi and Charlotte.  Kaspar and Irmi become a couple and break away from Bauhaus earliest. Peter will always be obsessed with Charlotte who will be interested initially in Jeno before living with Peter. She – forced into the female “role” of weaving will still be working and evolving the longest at the Bauhaus in Stieglitz as the School is finally destroyed. Walter is seemingly lacking the creativity of the others, and is sullen and difficult, more of an outsider. Gay, with a largely hidden interest in Peter, he will have an affair with Jeno (upsetting Charlotte) before moving onto a number of local Nazis – increasingly rising to power. 
The novel will therefore meld the art, the politics and the torrid passions, loves and jealousies of the six as relationships grow, fade, evolve and collapse over the years. Bauhaus and its values are  seen as an increasing challenge to the political right which means being there is increasingly dangerous – and with Walter’s links to leading Nazis the personal risk is potentially greater still.
Without acting as a “spoiler” all one can add is a key theme will be whether the six will recognise the dangers of the political situation – you might say why should they when so few did?  They move on into their working lives, with the challenges to remain as artists in a failing economy – an issue for any artist at any time.  Do they try and meet their dreams, or do they compromise? As the country lurches into extreme politics and then war what will the impact be on the six recognising that artists would come to be regarded as suspicious and potentially traitorous by the regime? Will they avoid the risks? Will the good aspects of their old friendships outweigh the personal competitiveness of their relationships and their artistic differences – to offer support that might keep the others safe as life becomes more dangerous?
First it is important to say that a pre-understanding of the politics of Bauhaus art and the political situation in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s makes it much easier to appreciate the depths of this novel and the subtle nuances of the developing situation and the possible implications. Nonetheless Wood’s key skill is to create a group of young, largely self focused people – some not really very pleasant or admirable - and create an interest in continuing to read about them and the developing story. 
A very interesting novel in what it says about art, history and politics. But it raises important questions too as to personal responsibility and the damage one can do by what ones does – or does not do – to, or for, others in your life. Well worth the read.
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