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Arthur and George
Arthur and George
Author: Julian Barnes
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 ...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9781400097036
ISBN-10: 1400097037
Publication Date: 1/9/2007
Pages: 464
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.

3.4 stars, based on 60 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio Cassette, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

reviewed Arthur and George on
Helpful Score: 5
I thought this was good, but not great. The first third or so, which outlines George Edalji and Arthur Conan Doyle's respective childhoods was my favorite part. I found that the central portion dragged, and I agree with other reviewers that it could have been shorter. Still, I think Barnes captures turn-of-the-century Brits well, and does a nice job of using a famous real character (Doyle) to draw a portrait of the age.
bookaddicted avatar reviewed Arthur and George on + 128 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
This would have made a great short story or novella. At over 400 pages it just became tedious. Sections alternate between the two main characters - Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji - to set up their eventual combined story but, by the time Barnes gets there I was bored with them both and not finding anything exceptionally likable about either one, a fault I am sure lay in Barnes's writing style.. Drawn from a real life criminal case in which Doyle became involved, there should have been the potential for a much more exciting tale spun.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 407 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
An interesting book about late 19th century English life as seen through the eyes of two men who seem very different but who also share some similarities. At times I felt the story lagged as the author focused on George and then a long section on Arthur, but when the two men meet and Arthur agrees to help George, the book regained my interest. I also liked learning about how Arthur created his fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.
tracey13 avatar reviewed Arthur and George on + 310 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Two very different lives become entwined due to a disgraceful miscarriage of justice. Use of actual letters and newpaper reports from the time make this feal more like a true story than a fictional account. Very skillfully written. Based on real events and people, with plenty of asistance from the author's imagination. A must for anyone interested in the work of Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, or the legal and social structure of England in the early 1900s.
esh712 avatar reviewed Arthur and George on + 44 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I've heard great things about this author, and to be fair, I would give him another shot with a different book. I thought the writing itself was great, just not the story. Initially, given that I love Sir A. Conan Doyle, I thought this would be perfect for me.

The problem is that the shift between the two characters (Arthur and George) takes place so abruptly and so constantly, it's very jarring, especially in the beginning when you're looking to connect and engage with the story. I didn't care what happened until well past the halfway point of the book, then I cared for a little while, and then stopped caring again.

Also -- and this is my own fault, really -- I didn't know this was based on truth until the end. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking, OK, I know Arthur was a real person, but who the heck is George, and why should I care??

Truth be told, as the story concluded, I still didn't care. And I'd argue that George was more important to the story. I think Barnes may have gotten a little too wrapped up in researching and conveying history rather than writing a compelling story.
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Phunter avatar reviewed Arthur and George on + 35 more book reviews
Julian Barnes took an historical incident (a wrongly accused and imprisoned man and a champion in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and built it into a remarkable story. He alternates between the two men's stories using the past tense for Sir Arthur's story and the present tense for George Edalji's until their paths cross and then he seamlessly switches back and forth as he continues to unwind his story. His character development is among some of the best I've read and he really gets into the mind of his characters and ponders many issues such as faith and fidelity in the midst of trying circumstances. One might hope for a crackerjack ending with a Sherlock Holmes type of conclusion, but it is based on reality so the ending (without giving away too much) is quite as satisfactory as one might hope. All in all, a very good read! Julian Barnes is a very literate and proficient author and his craft really shows in this book.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 3 more book reviews
Very good. I liked it except I think a little editing would have greatly improved the experience. He tended to dwell on the guilt of Arthur on his affair which got tedious.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 2 more book reviews
Entertaining read, story is compelling. Based on real-life events.
writereditor avatar reviewed Arthur and George on + 13 more book reviews
Starts a bit slow, but turns out to be an engaging historical novel about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the author of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries) and George Edalji, the son of a Vicar, whose life and career are threatened by a criminal justice system steeped in tradition but lacking in common sense. Doyle takes on Edalji's case, turning him momentarily into the cause du jour.
Great study of the differences in English society.