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Arthur & George by Julian Barnes

Arthur & George (original 2005; edition 2005)

by Julian Barnes

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3,9531471,297 (3.68)242
Title:Arthur & George
Authors:Julian Barnes
Info:Jonathan Cape (2005), Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Book Group Reads
Tags:Fiction English, Booker shortlisted, Biography, Edwardian, Book Group, Not kept

Work details

Arthur & George by Julian Barnes (2005)

  1. 20
    The Sherlockian by Graham Moore (BookGirlVL)
    BookGirlVL: "The Sherlockian" begins with Arthur Conan Doyle plotting the murder of Sherlock Holmes...
  2. 00
    Academy Street by Mary Costello (BookshelfMonstrosity)

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Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
After the first quarter of the story, I got hooked and could hardly put the book down. Mr. Barnes knows how to tell a captivating story! But the end the story was a disappointment for me; the story just fizzled out. A surprise. I expected something unusual to happen because of, or between, the two protagonist. ( )
  jack2410 | Feb 2, 2017 |
This story sounded interesting in theory but when ideas were put to paper it fell flat. There are essentially three parts to this novel and the good and compelling part is the second part which is chiefly about George and where his alleged crime is detailed and a court case ensues. Other than that specific part of the section, the book veers off into too many unnecessary descriptive details about the two main characters and goes off into too many insignificant subjects which are not integral to the main story such as Arthur's interest in spiritualism. It's like the author wanted to tell the story of these two individuals but got sidetracked and put a lot of filler into the story instead. It seems like the author couldn't decide if he wanted this story to be fiction or a biography and the story seems jumbled and uneven as a result. I also found myself not caring much about the two main men in the story especially Arthur who was made out to be somewhat pompous, self-indulgent and self-important by the author. Certain extraneous ideas to the main story were also repeated over and over such as Arthur's feelings of guilt about meeting his future second wife while his first wife dealt with an illness. For the last 50 or 60 pages, I found myself losing focus and to be honest wishing the story would come to an end. The book was much too lengthy and the story could have been told in about 150 less pages.
Overall a good idea for a story and there were some good and engaging parts but ultimately it was weighed down by the need to go away from the main storyline into repetitive and inessential themes. ( )
  seekingbooks3 | Aug 10, 2016 |
I have just finished this book and found it surprisingly fascinating. I was given it some time ago and it has sat on the bookshelf until I recently decided to read it and I'm glad I did.
It's the biographies of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji and how their lives fairly briefly intersected over Edalji's wrongful conviction for horse ripping.
Julian Barnes has taken extensive papers, letters etc and woven a wonderful story out of the characters and events. His interpretation of the characters seems very plausible ( )
  jbennett | May 18, 2016 |
This novel is based on a true case in England that did, in fact, involve the two parties of the title – George Edalji, who was erroneously charged and convicted of a heinous crime, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who brought his fame, resources, deductive reasoning and tenacity to correcting a gross injustice.

Their stories are told in alternating chapters, giving the reader a clear background on each character – their similarities and differences. Edalji was the English-born son of a Parsee and his Scottish wife. His father was a Vicar, and he and his siblings grew up in a relatively comfortable home in a small town, their lives centered on school and church. George was born and always considered himself an Englishman. Doyle was of Irish ancestry, born in Scotland, raised Catholic and educated by Dutch Jesuits; Arthur became English.

When a series of animal mutilations occur in around the village where George and his parents live, suspicions quickly focus on Edalji – a quiet, shy, solicitor with no apparent friends or social life in the village. Eventually George writes to the famous creator of master detective Sherlock Holmes in a plea for help. Arthur has never heard of George Edalji or the case, and he is in the throes of a depression, but Edalji’s letter lights a flame in Arthur. He is outraged at this gross miscarriage of justice and determines to right the wrong done to an innocent man.

Barnes uses actual letters and did extensive research into the case in writing the novel. But there is no way he could have known of the private conversations, or the thoughts of the people involved, so he classifies the work as a novel – appropriately so. It starts somewhat slowly, but I was completely fascinated by the story, and how these two very different men came together for one purpose. As a result of their efforts a major change in legal procedure came about – the institution of the Court of Appeals. ( )
  BookConcierge | Feb 16, 2016 |
This book was not quite what I had expected. I did enjoy it nonetheless.
Arthur and George - to more different men it is hard to imagine but each have their own appeal.
A popular literary figure and an obscure lawyer.

I'm not sure exactly what the aim of this story was. It is based on Arthur Conan Doyle's true involvement in The Great Wyrley Outrages and his efforts to clear George's name.

It's an interesting picture of Conan Doyle and flips between portrayals of his honour, practicality and sportsmanship and his Spiritualist leanings. It's not exactly obvious where the authors sympathies lie however.

An engaging read and it sparked an interest in Arthur Conan Doyle beyond his Sherlock creation but still not quite what I had expected. ( )
  Laurochka | Feb 6, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 141 (next | show all)
Barnes’s suave, elegant prose — alive here with precision, irony and humaneness — has never been used better than in this extraordinary true-life tale, which is as terrifically told as any by its hero Conan Doyle himself.
added by simon_carr | editThe Times, Peter Kemp (Jun 26, 2005)
For all the numerous retellings of Conan Doyle's life, it is hard to imagine that Barnes's semi-fictional version could be bettered in texture or acuity. In his elegant mini-chapters, he unpacks the writer's extraordinary rites of passage: his famous failure as an ophthalmologist; his work on a whaling ship; his sporting prowess - batting for the MCC, skiing Alpine passes; his heroism in the Boer War.
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A child wants to see. It always begins like this, and it began like this then. A child wanted to see.
George Edalji died at 9 Brocket Close, Welwyn Garden City, on 17th June 1953; the cause of death was given as coronary thrombosis.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099492733, Paperback)

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize . Arthur and George grow up worlds apart in late nineteenth-century Britain: Arthur in shabby-genteel Edinburgh, George in the vicarage of a small Staffordshire village. Arthur is to become one of the most famous men of his age, while George remains in hard-working obscurity. But as the new century begins, they are brought together by a sequence of events that made sensational headlines at the time as The Great Wyrley Outrages. This is a novel about low crime and high spirituality, guilt and innocence, identity, nationality and race. Most of all it is a profound and moving meditation on the fateful differences between what we believe, what we know and what we can prove.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:29 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

Arthur and George grow up worlds and miles apart in late nineteenth-century Britain: Arthur in shabby-genteel Edinburgh, George in the vicarage of a small Staffordshire village. Arthur becomes a doctor, and then a writer; George a solicitor in Birmingham. Arthur is to become one of the most famous men of his age, George remains in hardworking obscurity. But as the new century begins, they are brought together by a sequence of events which made sensational headlines at the time as The Great Wyrley Outrages.… (more)

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