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Arthur & George

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  11,767 Ratings  ·  1,228 Reviews
As boys, George, the son of a Midlands vicar, and Arthur, living in shabby genteel Edinburgh, find themselves in a vast and complex world at the heart of the British Empire. Years later—one struggling with his identity in a world hostile to his ancestry, the other creating the world’s most famous detective while in love with a woman who is not his wife–their fates become i ...more
Paperback, 445 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by Vintage International (first published July 7th 2005)
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Sean Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is a wonderful book, I literally couldn't put it down from starting it on a flight, through Customs at the the…moreSense of an Ending by Julian Barnes is a wonderful book, I literally couldn't put it down from starting it on a flight, through Customs at the the other end all the way to my hotel room, highly recommended. Arthur & George on the other hand I was mixed on to tell the truth, it was too biographical in my opinion, or perhaps it was my own expectations that were out of place.(less)

Community Reviews

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Sep 05, 2009 Trevor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, literature
It is all in the themes, I guess, and few writers write about themes that get under my skin in quite the same way that Barnes does. All the same, I’d better not run ahead of myself.

This book is based on a true story. I had wondered if it was true as I was reading it and although I knew that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was more or less real (if somewhat larger than life) there was still the possibility that Barnes had just slotted him into a work of otherwise complete fiction to make some sort of poin
Jun 18, 2015 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle

I find reading about real-life miscarriages of justice very disturbing, particularly when they occur in a country with a well-developed legal system in which the rule of law prevails. They make interesting reading, though, and this account of an early 20th century miscarriage of justice is no exception. It's made all the more interesting by the involvement of the “Arthur” of the title – Arthur Conan Doyle. The story should be better known, given its importance to the English legal system and the
Dec 14, 2007 Kay rated it it was amazing
I give five stars sparingly, so I was torn between giving and "four" and a "five" here. Ultimately, though, when I considered that I'd put aside all other tasks one weekend to devote to finishing this book, I decided that this was five-star material.

The last book I'd read by Barnes, England, England was a bit of a disappointment -- it came off, it seemed to me, like second-rate Tom Sharpe. But this book was a different matter. I especially liked the way it unfolded, alternating from one central
Feb 08, 2008 Steve rated it really liked it
What a great premise for a work of historical fiction. Take a larger-than-life figure known to all, make him larger still, and overlay his story on top of one with little fame but deserving of more. The acclaimed character was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who turned out to be even more intriguing than his detective stories would suggest. From early days in Mam’s kitchen listening to chivalric tales of adventure, to heroics in sports and at war, Arthur liked thinking of himself as an honorable knight ...more
What is better, a so-so book with a great ending, or a good book with a disappointing one? The latter for me, but I was let down, after enjoying this story all the way through, to have it end with such a whimper. Later I read that the story was true all the way, which did make me more understanding. It is about a miscarriage of justice in the early 20th century. George, a young solicitor of Indian origin, is falsely accused of killing a slew of horses in his area, and convicted. His defense is p ...more
The eponymous Arthur is Arthur Conan Doyle, who is living in Edinburgh. George is the son of a Midlands vicar. The novel is set in late-Victorian Britain, and follows the lives of both boys through to adulthood. One follows Law, the other Medicine. One is a victim of a series of bizarre pranks; neither's destiny is what it first appears to be.

For the first half of the book they are unaware of each other's existence. One experiences outrageous accusation, the other unrivalled success. One stands
Jun 22, 2016 Irene rated it really liked it
Arthur and George, two men who come of age in England in what might be described as genteel poverty at the end of the 19th century, end up with radically different experiences of life. When their lives intersect, they quietly make history. In the hands of this literary master, Arthur & George became so much more than a novel of historical fiction or of criminal investigation. Barnes creates psychologically vivid and complex characters. An interesting plot is narrated in striking prose.
Dec 09, 2014 Helle rated it really liked it
‘A beautiful and engrossing work’ The Independent on Sunday claims on the cover of my book, and I would absolutely have to agree. Arthur & George was the kind of book I felt immersed in, its scope being impressive, its authenticity alluring and its style – in Barnes’s capable hands – a pleasure to spend hour after hour with.

The title hints at a relationship between these two characters, but one which doesn’t get under way until about a third of the way into the book, maybe more. I had purpos
Piacevolissima lettura, indubbiamente indicata per chi ama le biografie in generale e per gli estimatori di Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in particolare.

Julian Barnes conduce qui un duplice lavoro di ricostruzione: da un lato la vita del celeberrimo creatore di Sherlock Holmes, in parte già nota a tutti, e dall’altro quella assai più modesta e quieta, ma non per questo meno interessante, di George Edalji, avvocato di origini indiane, che subì un’ingiustizia nelle aule britanniche e che Doyle si impegn
Feb 22, 2011 Hayes rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hayes by: giftie from Bettie
Shelves: read-in-2011
Beautifully written, the language kept me reading eagerly all the way through; however, this story is based on a true event in Arthur Conan Doyle's life and the ending, just like real-life endings, fizzled out. I wasn't really expecting a wrapped-up case like in a mystery novel, but I was left unsatisfied, wanting to know more.

Which might not be a bad thing. I have Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters which I will read a little sooner than I had anticipated to try to to remedy this.

Barnes does
Aug 31, 2015 Deea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: shortlist-mbp
update 31st of August 2015: description

Arthur & George Series - Premieres Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015 at 8/7c

Not a typical Barnes, but a book in which the reader is maintained alert at all times. The author chose a famous English personality (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) to be one of the main characters. He, investigated in a manner which can only be attributed to the witty Sherlock Holmes, a series of anonymous menacing letters followed by a great number of attacks on the cattle of a village very close to Birmin
Terence Hawkins
Mar 12, 2009 Terence Hawkins rated it it was ok
I like Julian Barnes; I like Arthur Conan Doyle; I like historicals. I therefore expected to like Julian Barnes' historical about Arthur Conan Doyle. Unfortunately I was disappointed.

The book concerns Doyle's years-long effort to exonerate an Indian solicitor----George--- accused of cattle mutilations in rural England. Bizarre enough, right? It's told in the form of intertwining third-person biographies of the title characters. Surprisingly, neither is terribly interesting. Doyle's little known
Aug 26, 2016 Ken-ichi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: snoot
Old review from 2006

Way outside of my normal range of reading here, but hey, that's what the Christmas book stack is all about. Apparently it's a pseudohistorical novel about Arthur Conan Doyle, George Edalji, and the 'Great Wyrly Outrage' animal mutilation hearings. In turn-of-the-century Britain, they lacked the foresight to blame such things on aliens from outer space, so they instead turned their suspicions upon the home-grown variety.

I have this problem with most non-genre fiction. If a boo
Apr 01, 2013 Brad rated it it was amazing
Well-written, feel good novel about a classic author and a misunderstood loner, taken into the world of late-victorian coming of age/courtroom drama/mystery. Is it just me, or are recent books taking on as many hats as they possibly can afford? I have to compare this one to Dan Simmons's Drood in a few ways... but of course this one is very much lighter to digest. Quite enjoyable.
Jul 05, 2016 Trevor rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2005
I couldn't decide whether this book fell under the "loved it" or "it was amazing" category. I finally settled on "loved it" but only because I want to try (try) to keep my "it was amazing" books to an exclusive few. However, I must say that I was amazed by the book. Barnes writing was smooth and effortless to read. At the same time it was penetrating, and he could articulate feelings and contradictions with clarity.
The story was wonderful. It is about Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock
Oct 30, 2011 Tony rated it it was amazing
ARTHUR & GEORGE. (2011). Julian Barnes. *****.
This is a marvelously written novel about two very different men, Arthur and George (duh). Arthur turns out to be Arthur Conan Doyle, and George is George Edalji. Do not be put off by the beginning of this novel, where the author fleshes out his two men using the see-saw technique that seems so popular these days. Once through this, the story can really begin. Basically, it is the tale of the righting of an injustice towards a man, George, wrong
Sep 16, 2014 Aubrey rated it really liked it
This was a very good, singular book. Now, I've seen many reviews that were disappointed with the ending. I believe that it was a decent one, given the circumstances and the persisting mystery of it all. The author's note helped clear things up, so one would be advised to read that if the conclusion was unsatisfying. As for the whole of the work. It was a fantastic cross section of English life at the time, detailing the lives of two very different men with very different views of the world,
Jun 28, 2008 Neil rated it really liked it
I don't go for whodunnits so much, mostly because I have such a poor head for plot that by the time the mystery is revealed, I've long forgotten who these people are that are now being identified as the criminals. This piece of historical fiction is no different in that regard, but the mystery of who committed the crime is only a small part of what Barnes is trying to do.

The other topics that the book tackles--changing definitions of masculinity and honor in early 20th century England, the strug
Mar 05, 2008 Vikki rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Corey because she deserves it. ;-)
Shelves: 2008-books-read
Not the worst book I've ever read, but I had high expectations going into it and unfortunately I was let down. I think this is because I found the book to be very slow going and filled with many unnecessary details. Although a fictional telling based on real events, I think that some of the information could have been condensed.
Nov 29, 2011 Shane rated it liked it
This book reads more as a biography in which the principal characters, Arthur and George, are brought to life to paint a pivotal event in which their lives intersected.

The novel swings between long chapters on either Arthur or George, with some minor characters intervening to provide relief. Arthur is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the renowned creator of Sherlock Holmes, and George is George Edalji, the lawyer son of a Parsee vicar and a Scottish mother. Their stories converge late into the book when
Jun 10, 2007 Maureeen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of sherlock holmes, historical novels, british humour, criminal justice, philosophy
The novel reflects the reserve of the English people. Insights are profound, and there is serious philosophical reflection, but it is all understated. For this reason, this novel is excellent for both people looking for an entertaining read, and people who expect an intellectual stimulation. Irony and astute observation make for a novel that is often incredibly funny. Barnes renders the cahracters in an endearing manner, I as a reader found myself immensely concerned with their outcomes. This wi ...more
Feb 20, 2015 cameron rated it it was amazing
This is one of those times I want to give 4.5 stars. This is a complex, multi leveled, engaging book of historical fiction. We follow Arthur from childhood through death (that's Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and George, an East Indian-English Vicar's son who is raised to be a sound person of character and a solicitor.
Being a huge fan of Sir Doyle, I was surprised and delighted when I discovered who the young Arthur was. I try not to read the flyleaf summaries or long winded reviews until after I've r
Amy Sturgis
I knew going into this novel by Julian Barnes that it focused on the Scottish doctor-turned-author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Anglo-Indian solicitor George Edalji. Their very different lives intersected when Conan Doyle drew outraged attention to the wrongful conviction of Edalji for the series of horse and livestock mutilations known as the "Great Wyrley Outrages" of 1903. Edalji's case and Conan Doyle's championing of his cause helped lead to the creation of England's Court of Criminal App ...more
Jan 27, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it
I found this book to be very interesting indeed. It was historical fiction but felt more like a good and proper non-fiction account of these mens' experiences; a snapshot kind of biography. I was surprised to find that someone like Julian Barnes wrote something so precise because I thought he was more into comedy but hey, look, another Rennaisance man. This book is a wonderfully well written account of a true landmark case that happened in England to a misunderstood and very innocent Indian Engl ...more
This book drew me in immediately. Barnes tells the story of Arthur (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and George (George Edalji), two people whose lives intersect in a powerful way in the second half of the book. As with others of his books, Barnes packs a lot into a small package. In this case he brings to life the moral and ethical milieu/dilemmas of the Victorian era through Arthur and George's story. The story gradually unfolds, being told through alternating chapters focusing on one of the main chara ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Raquel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Arthur & George’ é um dos melhores encontros da literatura - e da vida real! - que podiam ter ocorrido. É a verdadeira aventura detectivesca do autor de Sherlock Holmes, numa obra de Julian Barnes que nos dá a conhecer um pouco destas duas vidas, destes dois homens tão diferentes, mas que o acaso acabou por juntar.

Aug 09, 2015 Ruth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took me awhile to catch on. Enjoyed it about 3/4 of the way through, but the author does tend to go on and on and on.
Sep 19, 2008 Philip rated it it was amazing
George Edalji (that’s Ay-dal-ji, by the way, since Parsee names are always stressed on the first syllable) is the son of a Staffordshire vicar of Indian origin and his Scottish wife. George is thus a half-caste, to use the language of his late-Victorian and Edwardian age. He’s a diligent, if not too distinguished a scholar. He is uninterested in sport, is of small stature and doesn’t see too well. He sleeps with his father behind a locked door, is in bed by 9:30, becomes a small town solicitor w ...more
Aug 13, 2015 Krista rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
The first sight which I ever had of Mr George Edalji was enough in itself to both convince me of the extreme improbability of his being guilty of the crime for which he was condemned, and to suggest some at least of the reasons which had led to his being suspected.

I went into reading Arthur and George knowing nothing about it – other than the fact that it was a Man Booker nominee in 2005 and that I remember really enjoying author Julian Barnes' Man Booker winning title The Sense of an Ending f
Michael Bennett
My first introduction to Julian Barnes was the vastly different, yet also compelling, “The History of the World in 10 Chapters”. Though I quite enjoyed it (gave it four stars on this site), I never quite got around to reading anything else in his respectably large body of works. But this summer while holidaying in Europe (a turn of phrase intended to trick you into believing that I this is something I do often) I had the opportunity to find an autographed copy of Arthur & George and combined ...more
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The Description could use a spoiler alert. 6 101 Sep 16, 2012 08:19AM  
  • Master Georgie
  • I'll Go to Bed at Noon
  • English Passengers
  • The Keepers of Truth
  • Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters
  • The Hiding Place
  • The Quickening Maze
  • The Industry of Souls
  • Oxygen
  • The Master
  • This Thing of Darkness
  • Passion: A Novel of the Romantic Poets
  • The Infinities
  • Summertime
  • Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Accidental
  • Morality Play
  • A Long Long Way
Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer of postmodernism in literature. He has been shortlisted three times for the Man Booker Prize--- Flaubert's Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005), and won the prize for The Sense of an Ending (2011). He has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.

Following an education at the City of London School
More about Julian Barnes...

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“If a man cannot tell what he wants to do, then he must find out what he ought to do. If desire has become complicated, then hold fast to duty.” 24 likes
“And that was all the part of it - the way you were obliged to live. You stifled a groan, you lied about your love, you deceived your legal wife, and all in the name of honour. That was the damned paradox of it - in order to behave well, you have to behave badly.” 18 likes
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