Book Reviews of Arthur and George

Arthur and George
Arthur and George
Author: Julian Barnes
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ISBN-13: 9781400097036
ISBN-10: 1400097037
Publication Date: 1/9/2007
Pages: 464
Rating:
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 59

3.4 stars, based on 59 ratings
Publisher: Vintage
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

20 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Arthur and George on
Helpful Score: 6
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.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 119 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
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 + 44 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
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.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 404 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.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 307 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.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 902 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was a relatively strange little book. It is something of a history about a young man named George who is wrongly accused, convicted, and imprisoned for various crimes committed within his community. His plight comes to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who takes it upon himself to see that true justice is served for this unfortunate young man.

In the end, I'm not exactly sure what to think about this book. The stories of the crimes and their investigation are interesting because they are so odd. Doyle's contributions to George's plight (something that actually happened) and the eventual development of an appeals process in England's judicial system (something that needed to happen) are worthwhile contributions on a socially historical level, but none of that can justify the length and detail contained within this book.

The story moved forward but I cannot say that it went quickly. In fact, it trudged. The ending was rather mundane and anti-climactic. The plot was always on the verge of getting completely bogged down in tedium. While it was interesting to read in full an event that is normally just a brief footnote in the chronology of Doyle's life, I cannot say that the length and detail of this book was necessary.

This would have been far better as a shorter novel. In conclusion, I cannot say it was worth the time that I spent reading it. My opinion: let this one pass you by.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 366 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
A mystery that is intrigung in more then one way. Its not just the case involved, its that this very literate author has fictionalized the life of Arthur Conan Doyle. In doing so he acquaints us with the life experiences that led to his being able to create the special kind of reasoning Sherlock Holmes is famous for. In this book, Doyle himself does the detecting!
reviewed Arthur and George on
Helpful Score: 1
Although I'm aware of his reputation, I have never read Julian Barnes before. But I could tell from the beginning of this book that I was in the hands of a master. In ARTHUR AND GEORGE, Barnes writes very convincingly in a Victorian Age style. His book describes the parallel experiences of George Edalji, a methodical Englishman of East Indian descent, and Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Peer of the Realm, and sportsman.

This book is based on a true story of how George's legal predicament evolved into a landmark case regarding appeals. I am reluctant to reveal plot details for fear of spoiling anyone's enjoyment of the tale. Rest assured that the book is abominably clever, and Barnes has a real gift for slipping in details that reveal much to the observant reader.

I will warn of two things, however. First, this book employs a good deal of exposition, particularly in the early going. Stick with it, as once the background is painted in, Barnes does marvelous things moving the tale forward.

My other concern is that the book does lag badly at its mid-point mark. Although the two protagonists are quite different, Doyle is oddly the less interesting of the two characters at that stage. We come to admire George and his steadfastness, while we come to see Doyle as a man constantly on the move, seemingly trying to escape from under the heel of his own repressed virility.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 1139 more book reviews
Barnes's sedate and matter-of-fact prose style was interesting at first, but after 20 pages or so, I found it was putting me to sleep. That sedative effect, along with the constant switch between Arthur's story and George's, failed to keep me engaged. I felt that I was reading fragments, and decided I didn't have the patience or involvement to wait for the author to put the whole tale together. I think I'd much rather read a straightforward and factual account of the case the novel is based on, rather than this lukewarm fictional rendition.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 526 more book reviews
Very indepth and intense novel
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 + 2 more book reviews
Entertaining read, story is compelling. Based on real-life events.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 902 more book reviews
This was a relatively strange little book. It is something of a history about a young man named George who is wrongly accused, convicted, and imprisoned for various crimes committed within his community. His plight comes to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who takes it upon himself to see that true justice is served for this unfortunate young man.

In the end, I'm not exactly sure what to think about this book. The stories of the crimes and their investigation are interesting because they are so odd. Doyle's contributions to George's plight (something that actually happened) and the eventual development of an appeals process in England's judicial system (something that needed to happen) are worthwhile contributions on a socially historical level, but none of that can justify the length and detail contained within this book.

The story moved forward but I cannot say that it went quickly. In fact, it trudged. The ending was rather mundane and anti-climactic. The plot was always on the verge of getting completely bogged down in tedium. While it was interesting to read in full an event that is normally just a brief footnote in the chronology of Doyle's life, I cannot say that the length and detail of this book was necessary.

This would have been far better as a shorter novel. In conclusion, I cannot say it was worth the time that I spent reading it. My opinion: let this one pass you by.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 2 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 + 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.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 22 more book reviews
Very enjoyable format for a mystery. I wish I had thought of this idea. Very good read.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 88 more book reviews
Could not finish it.
reviewed Arthur and George on
This book is a wonderful journey through a man's adolescent and manhood experiences (George) where he meets his mentor (Arthur), who goes far out of his way to right the wrong that has been perpetrated in the name of justice. Excellent read.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 902 more book reviews
This was a relatively strange little book. It is something of a history about a young man named George who is wrongly accused, convicted, and imprisoned for various crimes committed within his community. His plight comes to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who takes it upon himself to see that true justice is served for this unfortunate young man.

In the end, I'm not exactly sure what to think about this book. The stories of the crimes and their investigation are interesting because they are so odd. Doyle's contributions to George's plight (something that actually happened) and the eventual development of an appeals process in England's judicial system (something that needed to happen) are worthwhile contributions on a socially historical level, but none of that can justify the length and detail contained within this book.

The story moved forward but I cannot say that it went quickly. In fact, it trudged. The ending was rather mundane and anti-climactic. The plot was always on the verge of getting completely bogged down in tedium. While it was interesting to read in full an event that is normally just a brief footnote in the chronology of Doyle's life, I cannot say that the length and detail of this book was necessary.

This would have been far better as a shorter novel. In conclusion, I cannot say it was worth the time that I spent reading it. My opinion: let this one pass you by.
reviewed Arthur and George on + 114 more book reviews
In Victorian Britain, two boys come to life: George, the son of a Midlands vicar, and Arthur, in shabby genteel Edinburgh, both of them feeling at once near to and impossibly distant from the beating heart of Empire. One falls prey to a series of pranks en route to a legal vocation, while the other studies medicine before discovering a different calling entirely, and it is years before their destinies are entwined in a mesmerizing alliance. We follow each through outrageous accusation and unrivaled success, through faith and perseverance and dogged self-recrimination, whether in the dock awaiting complete disgrace or at the height of fame while desperately in love with a woman not his wife, and gradually realize the George is half-Indian and that Arthur becomes the creator of the world's most famous detective. Ranging from London clubs to teeming prisons, from a lost century to the modern age, this novel is a panoramic revelation of things we thought we knew or else had no clue of, as well as gripping exploration of what goals drive us toward whatever lies in wait.