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The Ingenious Edgar Jones
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The Ingenious Edgar Jones

2.73 of 5 stars 2.73  ·  rating details  ·  242 ratings  ·  55 reviews
In 19th century Oxford, an extraordinary child is born: Edgar Jones, a porter's son, with a gift that may be a blessing or a curse. Though Edgar's father cannot see beyond his son's slowness and disobedience, his uncanny abilities soon bring him to the attention of a sinister professor, at work on an extraordinary museum.
Unknown Binding, 338 pages
Published May 29th 2008 by Not Avail (first published 2007)
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Madreader
A strange mix of Gormenghast and Dorothy Sayers. The writing was first rate, but the story was unfocused. What was Garner trying to say? So many fascinating details, so many unfulfilled promises, so few (if any) characters one cared about (Edgar himself was, well, without real purpose)...and yet I give it four stars because if this writer ever settles on a strong story with characters I can care about, she will be someone to read.
Tamela
What? This one was odd but very well written and interesting. The ending kind of took me by surprise, but then I couldn't figure out what could possibly happen to the family. Edgar is a strange boy but he grows on you with his cleverness. I find it intriguing that this Edgar and Edgar Sawtelle both do not speak in the beginning. (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle-which I haven't completed yet)Is this a sign of their curious personalities?

"...the books stacked up inside the walls were a trap; knowledge
...more
Junkie for the Written Word
I checked this out from the library and then I looked at the reviews on here so maybe I went into reading it expecting it to be bad... and was then surprised that it wasn't.

Granted the last couple of chapters took an acid trip but on a whole the book was very well written, interesting, and the characters were, for the most part, real and emotionally investable (I don't think that's a word).

It's not going on my favorites list but I think it was a pretty good read.
Erika
Received this book as a gift and finally had some long car rides to read it. It was odd to say the least. Victorian era Oxford is not my favorite time period. This book was especially peculiar because almost the entire book was realistic and somewhat normal and then at the end turned crazy fantasy with people turning to stone gargoyles? It was wacko, but still mildly interesting. Not sure I would recommend it to anyone though; maybe people entranced with Oxford and it's professors, or Victorian ...more
Harsha Priolkar
I just didn't get it I suppose. I bought this because the blurb seemed interesting - Oxford in the 19th century and terms like 'curious baby' and 'no ordinary boy' and 'born inventor' held promise of an exciting adventure story. I must admit to being hugely disappointed :( It never feels good to me to dislike a book, hence the two stars, but this one was just tedious. I finished it only coz it's what I do when I read.

The story starts off promisingly with a baby born during a meteor shower, but t
...more
Keith
Charles Dickens would be proud---up to a point. This novel of class distinction and the difficulty of overcoming poverty, even with the best of intentions and hard work is classic Dickens, where oftentimes luck and fortune is of more import than effort. The setting is mid-nineteenth century Oxford and Edgar is the newborn son of a guardian porter at one of Oxford University’s thirty nine colleges and I must say here that I learned more about Victorian Oxford University tradition than I expected. ...more
Hank
In the Victorian Age, in a locale as esteemed as Oxford with its legendary intellectual pursuits, it is no wonder that the emerging evidence of a creation story not exactly in tune with a literal translation of the Genesis account would bring debate and conflict. This is the backdrop of the story of an unusual child, gifted beyong imagination with creativity and insight.

Loving all things British and especially having visited Oxford made this story even more enjoyable. In the midst of the debate
...more
Lynn
I really enjoyed this book--until the end. I liked the voice and the clashes of pre- and post-education/industrialization and of science and religion, and the illustration of the way people began to question the established order. It also had a kind-of "Tom Jones" quality, with a boy (much younger) setting out to find himself and make his way in the world. It had a sort of 19th century tone, which I did like.

I kept thinking as I read that I was hoping the book didn't fall apart at the end, but,
...more
Jenina
This isn't bad book, despite the two stars I have given it. But it is a 'worthy' book that misses because it is neither emotionally engaging nor a page-turner. The inward-looking character development is set against descriptions of a 19th-century Oxford university town that almost belongs in a work in the fantasy genre. But the expectation of the action of fantasy novel are not met.

Instead what unravels is a story about thwarted personalities and expectations, in the context of a brutal class-ri
...more
Gemma Lowe
I really enjoyed this book, it was quite a sad story about a family who, beneath the surface, didn't really know each other at all. The unique character of Edgar Jones is well portrayed throughout as simply a misunderstood child with big ideas and I liked the story following his ups and downs through his eyes and then his fathers. You get a real sense of injustice and by the end of the book it is both sad and inspiring.

Elizabeth Garner is a talented author and I will enjoy reading more of her w
...more
Amy
Honestly, I found the notes at the end of this book more interesting than the actual story. I did not care for the characters, even the main character - a young "ingenious" boy. The book takes place during an important time in history, when science is making its break from religion. The book seemed to be more about nature v. nurture than it was about God v. science. Either way, Edgar's dealings with Oxford destroy his family and teach him a great deal about invention, and yet very little about l ...more
Ronda M
This was an odd book. Edgar had a very unique type of intelligence, and was not understood by his parents or the world in general. He made his way into a series of apprenticeships at a very young age, to escape his father's idea of homeschooling and to use his unique talents. He wasn't old enough or aware enough to understand the motives of the people who used him, though.

Edgar's parents were characterized too extremely. The challenge of dealing with a child that you don't understand is an inter
...more
Ann Murphy
An interesting book about a strange boy born to disfuntional parents - one a college night porter and one an ex barmaid who loves dressmaking. Their son is very peculiar - probably aspegers syndrome but this is set in a pre-indutrial Oxford where such conditions are completely misunderstood. Edgar is obsessed with technology, iron and flying. He is unable to learn to read but turns out to be amazing with his hands. He gets involved with a Professor in the colleges and starts creating strange mac ...more
Kathy
Although this book was well written, I just couldn't get into it. I didn't really enjoy the edge of fantasy that others will appreciate. It didn't really go anywhere interesting for me.
Amy
While the author clearly has a talent for writing, the story was really quite poor. I continued to read this book rather reluctantly, willing it to get better and pick up on some of the more interesting elements of the story. For instance, what made William and Edgar special/different. The book does touch on this at the end briefly but it is almost a sense of "too little, too late", which is a real shame. In my opinion, there was far too much information about Edgar's apprentice roles which detr ...more
Misty
The problem with this story was pushed storyline and the sci-fi type ending (this would not be a problem except for the fact that the story had no other sci-fi pull EXCEPT at the end). I do have to say that the characters and their development were great. In fact, the characters and their personal stories would make great book group discussions. I would have liked to have had some resolve at the end, in any direction. The book just kind of stopped and didn't really give room for ponderment.
Laura
What did I think?...I think I missed something. This book morphed into something I didn't expect. The characters are tragic, each in their own fashion. And the tragedy spreads with each turn of the page. Edgar Jones is especially in need of some life direction, but is unable to find it in the world around him...he has to become the master of his own universe in order to survive. But near the end you will say to yourself "I didn't see THAT coming". And that is not a spoiler.
John
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kat
This was a hover between three and four stars. Lovely style, interesting characters, well-built tension and I did very much enjoy it but left me with the vague feeling that nothing really happened.

Should probably excuse it a little because due to job meaning I had to skim-read hundreds of articles in a very short space of time, found it difficult not to take the same approach to my reading-for-pleasure too.
Sarah
The blurbs on the cover promised a riveting and disturbing book that would also be fascinating and hard to put to down. Instead, I found a rather plodding book that was the story of a dysfunctional and dull family whos' tale was doomed to end in a net of tragedy that was easily seen by the midpoint of the book.

Best read when sitting in the middle of a snowstorm and drinking.
Paula Hebert
kind of an odd story of the awakening of a young boy in the midst of the industrial revolution in england, being buffeted between invention and convention. I only wish the book were fuller. I find so many books are so lightweight these days. is it because it makes them smaller, and thus less intimidating to the reading public today? more meat to the story, I cry!!
Liza Gilbert
This was a lovely book. However, it was a little too domestic for my tastes. The titular Edgar spends the first 50 pages as either an infant or a toddler. Therefore, the "action" is all very familial and theoretical. Garner's depiction of Oxford is gorgeous without being overdone, and I think in hands other than mine, this might be considered a very good book.
Jenny
I liked this book at the beginning as I enjoyed Garner's style and the descriptions of Oxford were interesting and the way of family life. Edgar's struggle for approval from his father and then his determination to make a name for himself eventually became tedious. I enjoyed it less and less as I continued to read and the end was very disappointing.
Suzie
It was not what I was expecting. I enjoyes certain aspects of the novel, but found parts of the plot a bit far-fetched. I generally don't like books without chapters because they're less manageable. There was a certain magical feel to the book that I really enjoyed, but it wasn't really followed through in my opinion
Liviu
Very disappointing book; neither the style nor the subject worked for me; I expected a book on par with Hannah Tinti's superb debut novel or with Tom Pollard excellent Lazarus Club and this one is far, far away. The prose was ok enough to rate two stars, rather than one star but a huge disappointment
LocalPeanut
This was a Christmas present because they knew I love books which are set in an academic setting, especially Oxford. Although the characters were unique, I was dissapointed by the ending. It was surreal . . . as if the author couldn't figurre out how to close the story.
David
CD version, and as at CD number 5 I am impressed. More so as its not the sort of story I would have picked up as a rule (The title swayed me). Sort of historical fiction with a touch of fantasy surrounding a talented child.
And at the finish, a bit drawn out but enjoyed it
Americanogig
Very interesting story at the beginning, following through to the middle but completely lost me at the end. Definitely well written, liked a view of old Cambridge, but urgh, the end! Maybe if there was a sequel, but there's no way this is going to be continued...
Amy
I had really high hopes for this for some reason - took me ages to track it down. Unfortunately a bitter disappointment - frustrating in what it didn't do with an interesting concept and setting. The only book I bought this year that I am going to give away.
Kris Bueche
Odd but interesting little book. It kept my attention and I read through very quickly. The end was a disappointment (50 great chapters followed by 2 that just didn't fit the story) and that was made worse by reading the authors historical note.
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“See how slippery the world is, Edgar,' he whispered. 'See how most folks spin their way across it without thought or direction. But find a straight line through it and there's nothing you can't achieve.” 1 likes
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