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Arthur & George

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  8,565 ratings  ·  910 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 January 1st 2005)
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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...more
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...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
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
Feb 22, 2011 Hayes rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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,...more
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...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
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...more
Jun 10, 2007 Maureeen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Terence Hawkins
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...more
Mar 05, 2008 Vikki rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Este livro é absolutamente assombroso.

Escrito de uma forma excelente, somos lentamente absorvidos para todo este ambiente da mais terrível xenofobia aliás, todo este livro é de uma suavidade aterradora.

Como é que numa vila tão pacífica do interior de Inglaterra se podem esconder pessoas com faces normais mas sentimentos tão negros?
Enquanto lia várias vezes me vinha à cabeça uma cena de um episódio da série do Sherlock Holmes (que eu devorava na adolescência e continuo ainda hoje a revê-la) em qu...more
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...more
I enjoyed reading this book, until I started it I did not know that one of the two main characters was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Indeed, more than half of the book is about the life that sir Arthur and George Edalji –a lawyer, son of the vicar of a town near Birmingham of Parsee origins –before 'fate' made them meet. The other half of the book is about Conan Doyle's investigation on George's case. It is curious how, even if they only met three times in their lives, they had a profound impact...more
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...more
Michael Bennett
My first introduction to Julian Barnes was the vastly different, yet also compelling, “The History of the World in 10½ 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 combine...more
Karl Steel
Since I find all spiritualism either risible or of only historical interest, Barnes' attention to Doyle's spiritualist fervor transformed my affectionate interest for Doyle into disgust and impatience. But while watching yet another 'Christmas Carol' this holiday--since this is what one does with the in-laws--I realized the weirdness of early twentieth century English spiritualism loosened the syrupy anglophilic nostalgia of the holiday. It wasn't all carols and parlor games, unless you want to...more
Completely charming. I'm glad I didn't know this was historical fiction before I picked it up, because I never would have. I thought I hated historical fiction the way I thought I hated musicals, before I got dragged to see Stephen Sondheim's 'Into The Woods', which was ten kinds of excellent.

Anyway, great read. Tiny flaws - a few poorly-concealed chunks of historical research, and some anachronistic psychologizing - don't damage the central core of this book, which is pure old-school novel-wri...more
Katerina Sapunova
Хотела отвлечься от научных изысканий и написать веселый отзыв на хорошую книжку, но оказалось, что написать веселый отзыв на книжку, где нет беспорядочного секса, воззваний к человечеству и сентенций про красные штаны настоящего мужчины (простите, эти штаны мне запали в душу, хочу упоминать их везде) весьма трудно.

Роман Барнса не скандальный, не поучительный и даже не дико смешной, но, стоит только начать, и отложить его будет невозможно. Жил-был в конце XIX - начале XX века Артур, сын склонног...more
Joshua James
I found this book through my love of Sherlock Holmes. I saw the author name and thought, "I'll read this." This book is historical fiction. It is based on what actually happend, but the author spiced some parts of it up.The two main characters are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the author of Sherlock Holmes. and George who is a lawyer. George is the son of a church man, and Arthur is the son of drunk. George is a lawyer who is accused of something he doesn't do and is incarcerated for years until they c...more
In his acknowledgements, Barnes gives credit to many – the biggest credit should go to him, of course. The research he has conducted for this wonderful book provides him with a wealth of knowledge which informs the book subtly at most times. There are occasions when one feels there was a scrap of paper with information he had not used up to the point of writing a section and felt a pity to dismiss, but these are few and far between.
The story itself must have been a godsend for a writer as intere...more
Historical fiction about lives of the renown Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a lesser known individual, solicitor George Edalji. One was the son of a strong mother who drove in him a deep sense of family history, honor and chivalry. The other was the son of a pastor who instilled in him a strong rooting in religion and what it means to be an Englishman....despite his mixed heritage.
One goes on to study medicine and become a world famous writer, but loves a woman not his wife. The other, on his way to...more
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
When I started this book I hadn't realised that the novel revolved around the true events which involved Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in clearing the name of George Edalji, an introverted solicitor wrongly convicted of slashing ponies and cows and being the writer of anonymous letters, whose father was a Church of England vicar of Parsee origin.
The life of the two main protagonists from youth to adulthood is charted in alternate chapters until the narrative reaches the point where their worlds intermi...more
Monthly Book Group
Introducing the book, the proposer said it had been a difficult read for him, and at one stage he had doubted whether he would finish it. One reason for the difficulty in getting to grips with the book had been the feeling of incredulity at the character of George, and the unbelievable injustice which had happened to him. Only when 2/3rds through did the structure of the book make sense and where it was going become clearer. He was struck by the strong similarities of the challenges facing Arthu...more
I adored this book.

It's difficult to review without giving away what Barnes, for the first 100 pages, kept a delightful secret, although I'm sure most reviewers haven't tried to do the same.

For me, this was a gloriously readable combination of fact and fiction, in the vein of The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher but with more artistic license taken; a story so strange, one that gripped the whole newspaper-reading English nation in its time, yet which has been largely forgotten today. This fascinates me...more
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The Description could use a spoiler alert. 6 82 Sep 16, 2012 08:19AM  
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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
More about Julian Barnes...
The Sense of an Ending A History of the World in 10½  Chapters Flaubert's Parrot Talking It Over England, England

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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.” 21 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.” 16 likes
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