Arthur & George

Arthur & George

Book - 2005
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Julian Barnes' Man Booker Prize-shortlisted novel is based on Arthur Conan Doyle's extraordinary real-life fight for justice. "Arthur George" is based on the true story of two men. One is Arthur Conan Doyle, the other is George Edalji, a solicitor from Birmingham. Their nineteenth-century lives are worlds and miles apart, until a series of shocking events brings them together. In dubious circumstances, George is found guilty of harming animals and is sentenced to seven years' penal servitude--a future of ignominious obscurity. However, when Arthur, who is now one of the most famous men in the land as creator of Sherlock Holmes, hears of this racist miscarriage of justice he decides to clear George's name... Told against the backdrop of Arthur's family life--his own passionate affair with the woman who was to become the second Lady Conan Doyle and his wife's lengthy battle with tuberculosis--this extraordinary novel is a dazzling exercise in detection.
Publisher: Toronto : Random House Canada, 2005.
ISBN: 9780679314172
Branch Call Number: FICTION BAR
Alternative Title: Arthur and George


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May 24, 2019

4 stars. This book was a Richard and Judy (UK) Book Club selection several years ago and that is how it came on my radar. It tells the story of Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes fame, and his life and also the story of George Edalji, an Anglo Indian boy who grew up to become a lawyer. Both stories are told in parallel until Arthur and George finally meet. George was charged and convicted of several atrocities and years of writing threatening letters. He proclaimed his innocence but was sent to jail, and did his time. He wrote to Conan Doyle and sent him details of his case, his trial and his innocence and Doyle, whose wife had just passed away, took up the cause and mad George's case prominent. I personally didn't realize until the end of the book that George Edalji was a real person and what happened to him was true. It was a long but interesting read. I enjoyed it, although it wasn't a book that I would have even known about if it hadn't been for the book club selection. Very different from what I usually read, but interesting nonetheless.

Apr 12, 2019

Interesting book. Excellent writing. Based on the real life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle he shows a fascinating glimpse of the underbelly of English life in the late 19th century, warts and all. And it is not pretty. Racism and misogyny ares rampant But it also shows the beginning of the modern era of enlightenment towards minorities, women and other groups outside of the mainstream of societies in the Western world.

stewaroby Nov 21, 2017

Julian Barnes is a great writer, but somehow I didn't read this when it first came out. I took it home and it sat beside my bed. Surely somehow if it sat there for long enough I would have read it without actually having to read it. If it hadn't been for Book Club and my rash resolution to complete every book assigned this year (not exactly met but better than last year) I would have missed a real treat. Engrossing and beautifully done, Barnes has accomplished a difficult feat here; detailed research that enriches the story without being shouty.

May 09, 2016

Not quite four stars, largely because of its uneven pace and anti-climactic ending. The book takes a very long time to reveal how the lives of Arthur and George finally intersect. My point being that much of the book is taken up with matters such as Arthur's marital issues and his devotion to spiritism, both of which are essentially irrelevant. I concede that George's unusual upbringing and odd personality do have a bearing on what happens to him and therefore merit the amount of space devoted to those details.
What really made this a worthwhile read is its exploration of the monumental stupidity of the police, combined with the determined racism of those in control of the English "justice" system of the day. To cap it off, the steadfast refusal of the authorities to admit that anyone had done anything wrong or even to offer an apology, let alone compensation to the victim. A cautionary tale, so be sure. A positive outcome was that the case provided impetus toward the establishment of a court of appeal.
Barnes' somewhat old-fashioned style of writing may not appeal to many readers of our day, but it's appropriate to a story set at the height of the Victorian era; it's not a quick read, demands some patience but it held my attention in spite of its shortcomings.

multcolib_susannel Oct 09, 2015

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is drawn into a case involving murdered animals, threatening letters and relentless bullying. Based on a real crime.

Jan 28, 2012

The story about the incredible injustice done to George is gripping, but it doesn't mesh all that well against the biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Still, it's fun to read a portrayal of Sherlock Holmes's creator in action and on a real case.

jgoody Dec 29, 2011

"A boy sees". It's one of the first lines you read in this book. Immediately you become enthralled into the story of Arthur and George. Julian Barnes wrote this novel in a most eloquent and sophisticated manner. His story took me to a comfortable England. Arthur is always the heroine yet always seeks more. Edalji is so on the straight and narrow that he never sees the way that people can be so malicious. I absolutely loved this book! It was a delight to know that much of the story was based on the real life events of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji...very much a treat! Great read!

Jun 27, 2011

A compelling novelization of a real world mystery, Barnes does a great job bringing these historical figures to life.

Nov 19, 2008

A fascinating story, based on historical events, and probably Barnes' most accessible book.


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Jan 28, 2012

Life. How easily everyone, including himself, said the word. Life must go on, everyone routinely agreed. And yet how few asked what it was, and why it was, and if it was the only life or the mere amphitheatre to something quite different. Arthur was frequently baffled by the complacency with which people went on with... with what they insouciantly called their lives, as if both the word and the thing made perfect sense to them.

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