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Arthur & George Paperback – January 9, 2007
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The victimization of George takes the form of nasty letters, the theft of a school key, and finally, the accusation that he has mutilated animals. Meanwhile, Arthur is becoming more and more famous for creating Sherlock Holmes, whom he tries to kill off once and is forced to resurrect because of his fans' outcry. He marries, fathers two children and then, when his wife is invalided by consumption, falls madly in love for the first time with Jean Leckie.
The novel's style is smoothly revelatory. We slowly come to realize that George is half-Indian, that Arthur is the famous Doyle, that the woman he loves, chastely, is not his wife and, sadly, that George will not prevail over the forces ranged against him.
When George, desperate to resume his law career after imprisonment, sends Arthur the sad chronicle of his history, Arthur sees immediately that he could not be guilty and sets out to clear his name. This case of George's lifts Arthur from the slough of despond into which he has sunk after his wife, Touie, dies. He is guilt-ridden, constantly wondering if he was attentive enough, if she could possibly have known about Jean. Realizing the immense injustice George has suffered, he is shaken out of lethargy and, in Holmesian fashion, sets out to solve the case.
Julian Barnes is a gifted writer of enormous accomplishment. This novel is thoroughly engrossing, filled with Barnes's trademark themes of identity and love, longing and loss, and ultimately, an examination of man's inhumanity to man. --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
This book is based on a true story of how George's legal predicament evolved into a landmark case regarding appeals. I am reluctant to reveal plot details for fear of spoiling anyone's enjoyment of the tale. Rest assured that the book is abominably clever, and Barnes has a real gift for slipping in details that reveal much to the observant reader.
I will warn of two things, however. First, this book employs a good deal of exposition, particularly in the early going. Stick with it, as once the background is painted in, Barnes does marvelous things moving the tale forward.
My other concern is that the book does lag badly at its mid-point mark. Although the two protagonists are quite different, Doyle is oddly the less interesting of the two characters at that stage. We come to admire George and his steadfastness, while we come to see Doyle as a man constantly on the move, seemingly trying to escape from under the heel of his own repressed virility. (Boy, I never thought I'd write a sentence like that.)
These cavils aside, a brilliant book. I'm glad to have read it.
Enter the recently-widowed creator of Sherlock Holmes, who decides to use the same skills of his fictional detective in a quest to absolve Edalji and solve the crime. Utilizing both facts and deduction, as well as modicum of subterfuge and a healthy dose of influence, Conan Doyle sets to work on cracking the case.
Author Barnes has done a superb job of researching this true crime story--which at the time rivaled the Dryfuss case in France. Long-since forgotten by the cavalcade of history, the circumstances are revived and reviewed by Barnes in a thoroughgoing manner. He allows the reader to garner the impressions and facts that have guided his research into the crime, and is scrupulously accurate in his account of these two men and their contemporaries.
It makes for an often riveting narrative--and is "so adventurous a tale it may rank with most romances" as W. S. Gilbert might have put it. The reader follows the surprising twists and illuminating turns, and is deeply sympathetic to both Arthur and George, men whose lives are anything but ordinary, as well as to all the main characters in the novel.Read more ›
Julian Barnes weaves for us a story, one scene at a time that helps us to realize who Arthur and George are. One man was famous; the other became infamous. One man was widely considered what is best in Englishmen; the other was "not the right sort." One was a man of faith in the unseen; the other a man of faith in himself. One helped to clear the name of a fellow countryman; the other could not clear his own name unaided.
In Arthur & George, we are granted a glimpse into the psyche of men, the struggle to balance our desires with what we want to be and the hope that personal integrity will ultimately prove stronger than whatever adversity we face. Barnes explores a thought quite dear to my heart: justice can be denied but character will endure. Men of good character--of strong character, who have not surrendered to the prejudices of others--will not be defined by their circumstances; men of substance will always (if belatedly) be known for who they are. Or, as Horace Greeley said,
Fame is a vapor, popularity is an accident, money takes wings, those who cheer you today may curse you tomorrow. The only thing that endures is character.
Barnes is a wonderful storyteller and reading his prose is a pleasure. To read Arthur & George is to visit another place and time and to discover that for however things change in the world around us, things remain very much unchanged in matters of defining who we are.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I could not even get into this book. I read a few pages and gave up.Published 11 days ago by Virginia Brannigan
Julian Barnes is a great, informative writer. Somehow this book feels more ambitious than it really is. Read morePublished 1 month ago by WGHTS Reader
Absolutely loved it. Quite amazing that this was based on a true story. Brilliantly written with the two main characters absolutely coming out of the page.Published 2 months ago by Richard
Liked the story though it dragged in the middle and I found myself skipping ahead to the Arthur sections that I found more interestingPublished 3 months ago by Anthony Huntington
If you love Sherlock Holmes and his author, you will enjoy this book. It is an interesting story about the mind-set of 19th century values. Read morePublished 3 months ago by KB
Terrific read, just be patient and you'll find out why it was a Best Seller (keep your dictionary handy). DLPPublished 5 months ago by Donald L. Phillips
Odd subject. Best described as a fictionalized biographical study.Published 7 months ago by pizzapi