Master Georgie
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Master Georgie

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  884 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Beryl Bainbridge seems drawn to disaster. First she tackled the Unfortunate Scott expedition to the South Pole in The Birthday Boys; later (but emphatically pre-DiCaprio) came the sinking of the Titanic, in Every Man for Himself. Now, in her third historical novel (and her 16th overall), she takes on the Crimean War, and the result is a slim, gripping volume with all of th...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 27th 1998 by Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd (first published 1998)
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Sam Ruddock
Read: July 2010

Master Georgie in one tweet-sized chunk:
Short and apparently simple, Master Georgie is an enjoyable snapshot of lives and the Crimean War.

It is a rare delight to encounter a book of such apparent simplicity as Master Georgie. The narration – split between three voices – is compelling and smooth, the prose wonderfully uncluttered. It is overloaded neither with explicit themes or complicated ideas. There is no sense of a writer trying to be clever. Master Georgie is storytelling of...more
Huw Rhys
Right - this is Beryl Bainbridge; it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize; it is obviously a brilliant work of literature as judged by the "Literaty". There is obviously a great deal of clever literary mechanisms being used here; therefore how dare I not give this the most possible amount of marks that Goodreads allows?

But is it a "good read" for the casual reader? No, I'm afraid it wasn't. I found the plot far too fragmented; it required great leaps of imagination - or diligent back checking -...more
Brilliant. I am ashamed to say that I had never read any Beryl Bainbridge before but I certainly will again. A great example of a wonderful plot enhanced by a literary device. Not only does the plot and characterization unfold and progress as each chapter is told from the first-person perspective of a different person but also the events and devastation of the Crimean War are opened and examined for us. This book was of particular interest to me for the spotlight it put not only on a period and...more
3 1/2? 3 3/4? Well ...
Suppose you teach creative writing, and you've given an assignment (call it a term paper) to write a novella. Your star pupil, Ms. Bainbridge, turns in something called Master Georgie (forget the "a novel", at maybe 50-55000 words, this is a novella, as assigned).

Okay, you read it, and enjoy it quite a bit. Also, you're pretty impressed with some of the inventive things this pupil has done. You give it something in the "A" range. Ms. Bainbridge shows a lot of promise.

For e...more
The second book I have read by Bainbridge and didn't particularly like. It is listed somewhere as historical fiction but the story is so personal that the history part seems to get lost with more history relegated to the last chapters.

If it is supposed to be a love story, it wasn't a good one. I didn't care about the characters. Each chapter is told by a different character and you sometimes had to be a page into the chapter before you could figure out who was narrating.

This is my last Bainbridg...more
Paul The Uncommon Reader
Must read again.

Beryl Bainbridge said (possibly tongue in cheek), that most people needed to read this book three times before they understood it. Well I read it once, too quickly probably, and definitely feel I didn't understand it. Unless, of course, that is the point (which would be why Bainbridge might have had her tongue in her cheek).

Calling the six parts (chapters) of the book "plates" might be a clue. At the time in which the novel (novella?) is set, photography was in its infancy, and w

(hide spoiler)]

I had lots of difficulty with this book. I don't recommend it.
The subject is quite gruesome. The characters were not likeable. There are 3 different narrators and they all speak with the same voice. (If you have read "Poisonwood Bible" you know how effective it is to have narrators who speak in different voices.)
Louise Armstrong
I thought I was going to enjoy this because it is well written, but then it started jumping from narrator to narrator and then it jumped years of time and then (SPOILER ALERT) people started dying, and it fizzled out, and I just thought, why bother?
Caimh Mcdonnell
I enjoyed the literary device of the three narrators and I found the early narrative compelling. I also liked the enigmatic nature of the central character, the idea that while each narrator can reveal their perspective and certain detail of him to us, we never feel we get to know him. In the same way that none of us can entirely know another person.
However, I didn't really get a sense of what the overall narrative was trying to achieve. The second half of the book became a bit of a slog. Certa...more
David Llewellyn
Looking through my reviews of other novels I discovered I rarely give a book three stars. I either enjoy a story - in which case it will be rated higher - or don't. (Like the majority of readers, in many cases where I'm not enjoying a book I simply won't have finished it in which case it will never be rated in the first place.)
Master Georgie is one of those curious exceptions, in my opinion, in that it was "okay". Apart from an enormous plot hole towards the beginning and a notable coincidence,...more
Odd pied piper of a man drags a circle of people through the crimean war. good but somehow did not engross.
This 192 page historical fiction by Beryl Bainbridge, published by Da Capo Press in 1998, is called Master Georgie. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker in 1998.

The plot takes place during the Crimean War and follows differing characters through each chapter, leaving the reader to guess at who is narrating. Each successive chapter is a sort of snapshot of an event, based on the use of early camera work and developing photographs.

The story left me a little confused–why are these people in the Cr...more
This is more of a novella rather than a novel but that aside still manages to pack a punch.

The book is based around a Master George Moody a doctor and medical photographer and is told in 6 photographic plates by three very different characters, Myrtle the adopted orphan sister, Pompey Jones a street urchin turned photographer's assistant and George's brother-in-law Doctor Potter. Myrtle is the most devoted to Georgie despite him seemingly having no interest in women period, Pompey is more pragma...more
I enjoyed this book very much indeed. It is a tale of historical fiction, a series of tableaux or short narrations by 3 different characters, all of whom are drawn to, or love George Hardy, the Georgie of the title. Initially he is a medical student but later in the story is a practising doctor in makeshift hospitals on the battlegrounds of the Crimean War in 1853.

The first 2 narrations take place in and around Liverpool city centre and also Ince Blundell (very close to my childhood home). The s...more
Sean McLachlan
This is the first book of read by the famous Beryl Bainbridge. While I was impressed with this short historical novel, I did have some reservations and was somewhat surprised it was shortlisted for a Booker.

The story follows several people in the circle of the eponymous Master Georgie. Each gets to narrate for a short time and we learn the intricacies of this group of followers who adore the hero without really understanding him. Like many people who attract little coteries of admirers, Georgie...more
Master Georgie is a historical novel set in the mid 19th century. The story has three narrators, each of whom are connected in some way with the eponymous George Hardy. Myrtle, his adopted sister and one of our narrators, calls him Master Georgie, and she is devoted to him from an early age, following him around like a shadow wherever he goes. Also taking up the tale is Dr Potter, a close family friend, and Pompey Jones, who we first meet as a young ragamuffin on the streets of Liverpool.

This is...more
1. Master Georgie reminds me, for sad and obvious reasons, of Helen Humphreys's novel Afterimage - a book I sometimes think no one else has read, although that's obviously impossible. They are kind of contemporary with each other, published within a year of each other and with the action of both books set only 11 years apart. Both deal with photography, both have lower-class young women with odd and deep ties to the family. I haven't read Afterimage in a while so the details are fuzzy, although...more
Structured around a series of photographic tableau, this novel illustrates majestically Bainbridge's talents as reconstructionist of historical period and charcaterisation. The eponymous character is unveiled to us by a series of chapters narrated by those drawn to his orbit and each setting the scene for memorable photographic snapshots of key moments in the life of George Hardy. Surgeon and amateur photographer, George's love of adventure and scientific curiosity draw inexorably to him the mor...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is not a long novel - more of a novella really - and I read it in four sittings in one day. It's an interesting portrait of a small set of dysfunctional individuals in a series of bizarre and unlikely relationships, who then depart England (for reasons made neither wholly clear nor particularly credible) for the Crimea where war is brewing. It is a tale of unrequited love, obsession, concealed homosexuality, many secrets and lies, hunger, need, war and of basic human instincts. I really str...more
Mary Stephanos
A novella rather than a fully realized novel, Beryl Bainbridge's Booker-nominated Master Georgie tells the tale of George Hardy, a doctor and amateur photographer from Liverpool, and Myrtle, a young woman taken in by the Hardy family as a young girl. At the heart of this elliptical story--which unfolds in six chapters, each narrated by one of three characters: Myrtle, Dr. Potter (George's brother-in-law), and Pompey Jones (a photographer's assistant)--is a powerful meditation on the nature of de...more
The Hardy family is viewed through the eyes of three outsiders: the orphan girl they take in and who is obsessed by son George Hardy from the age of three, the doctor who marries daughter Beatrice Hardy and the duck-boy, who helps prevent a scandal when father Hardy dies in the arms of a prostitute. Against the backdrop of Victorian Liverpool and the Crimean war, relationships, obsessions and family secrets are gradually revealed and seen for what they are.
Incredible book. I loved it.
Великолепная написанная стилизация под викторианский роман - голосами нескольких человек (Миртл, девочки выросшей из милости при богатой семье и которая даже не знает даты своего рождения; "гусиного мальчишки" Помпи Джонса, что волей случая прибился к ней же и выживает как умеет; доктора Поттера, сначала семейного врача, а потом и зятя семейства Харди), смерти и войны рассказывается история о неком Мастере Джорджи, заурядном в принципе человеке своего времени (и положения в обществе). Полифония...more
I never read the cover of a book before I start it because I don't like anything to be given away, but maybe this is one case where I should have. I found the first two chapters wonderfully engrossing, but just didn't enjoy it once they went to war, and was disappointed to find that the tale never returned to England. Perhaps I wouldn't have approached it with such anticipation if I'd known, for example, that the book would be "Striking . . . in its companionable alliance between wry, deadpan hu...more
This book was somewhat elusive for me. In theory it has lots of things I like or am interested in: historical setting, fragmented narrative, multiple and unreliable narrators. It's like a checklist for historical metafiction! But something about this novel - although well written and well structured - didn't gel for me, and so was somewhat disappointing.
This book tells the story of George Hardy a Liverpool surgeon, who goes to the Crimean war, followed by Myrtle his besotted adoptive sister, Dr. Potter his brother in law and Pompey Jones a street urchin turned photographer. The thing I found vague was why they went, the story is told from the point of view of Georges three companions, while he remains an enigmatic character. The grotesque horrors of war are described in Bainbridge’s beautiful prose and little scenes have stuck in my mind since...more
Alan S.
This novel brilliantly exposes much of the psyche of Victorian England whilst, simultaneously, revealing the filth, misery and ultimately the pointlessness of war - as exemplified in the Crimean debacle. No details are spared in the horrors and deprivations suffered by the participants. Although the chronology of the novel is a little obscure at times, it is a great pity that those responsible for the equally futile First World War did not have this book to read beforehand - which might, arguabl...more
Bainbridge is an exception to my usual indifference to historical fiction. This slight novel, set in the Crimean war is funny, gory, and as enigmatic as the early photographs that it uses as a model.
Davor K
Honestly, I was a bit confused at first trying to figure out which character narrates the story but once i caught the line (to tell the truth I had to reread a whole chapter with different charcter in mind).
But once I caught it, I was really taken in with the book.
It reads like a cross between a costume drama and mystery, you read the confessions of main actors in this bloody story of love in impossible conditions and the whole time you are trying to figure out what happened between them actual...more
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Bainbridge was born in the port city of Liverpool in north-west England. Her agent, and her entry in Who's Who, gave the date as November 21, 1934, but records show her birth was registered early in 1933. Bainbridge herself sometimes said she struggled to remember her birth date, ever since she lied about her age so she could take a trip to France as a youngster without her parents' knowledge.

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“There are many things in this life capable of throwing people off course - the death of someone close, the loss of income or health, the realisation that cherished hopes cannot always be fulfilled” 2 likes
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