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Arthur & George Paperback – 6 Jul 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 130 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (7 Sept. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099492733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099492733
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"A beautiful and engrossing work" (Independent on Sunday)

"Richly accomplished... Dazzling" (Sunday Times)

"Excellent... Meticulously researched and vividly imagined, both gripping and thoughtful" (Sunday Telegraph)

"From the first paragraphs we know ourselves to be in the hands of a major novelist... A compelling narrative, beautifully controlled... This novel is Barnes at his best" (P D James The Times)

"As ever, Barnes serves up a master-class in character observation, lavishing attention on the minutiae of personality, the subtle and conflicting impulses that drive men and women. Barnes seems equipped to write with humour and elegance about anything he turns his attention to" (Financial Times)

Review

'A beautiful and engrossing work.' (The Independent on Sunday)

'Richly accomplished ... Dazzling.' (The Sunday Times)

'Excellent ... Meticulously researched and vividly imagined, both gripping and thoughtful.' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'From the [start] we know ourselves to be in the hands of a major novelist ... A compelling narrative, beautifully controlled ... This novel is Barnes at his best.' (The Times)

'As ever, Barnes serves up a master class in character observation, lavishing attention on the minutiae of personality, the subtle and conflicting impulses that drive men and women. Barnes seems equipped to write with humour and elegance about anything he turns his attention to.' (The Financial Times) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Short listed for the Booker and certainly the best read of all six books, I found it compelling. The two characters are very well drawn. They are different from each other in almost every way and yet you feel sympathy and interest for them whilst at the same time understanding their flaws.
It almost reads like a thriller. You are so keen to find out what happens next and yet the events in the book are also treated with a comfortable safeness that is the very essence of what it feels like to live in England: big issues are there but they are normalised to hold them at bay. You feel comforted by the normality but irritated at the same time.
Barnes tackles the notion of 'how things look' and 'how things are' really well. Given that we live in such a celebrity obsessed age that only cares about how things look and believes there is truth in how things appear, then the ideas the book tackles are very relevant and real. Yet somehow the whole thing is done by telling you a really good story with complex intellectual ideas carefully woven into the narrative.
I had to ration myself the last hundred pages because I was enjoying reading it so much and particularly the chapter where Arthur goes to see Anson(?) - the best chapter in the book!It's also very atmospheric, you really do experience the smell and feel of Edwardian England.
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Format: Hardcover
I bought this on a whim. Longlisted (now shortlisted) for the Booker, a very nice cover, an interesting sounding plot...Boy, am I glad I did. I enjoyed this book tremendously. I've never read Barnes before, and Im glad I've put that right. This is a gripping story of two men: Arthur Conan Doyle, and George Edalji. The first half of the book centres on the two men's passage through life, from childhood to the relative firmament of adulthood. Actually, this is the most gripping half of the book. Doyle...well, we know who Doyle is. Edalji is the son of a local clergyman, and grows up into a relatively sucessful solicitor. Eventually the two men's paths cross as they're both swept up - in entirely different ways - by a series of events known as The Great Wyrely Outrages.
Arthur & George is a super book for two reasons: Barnes' accomplished, brilliant writing, the tone of which is matched faultlessly to the time-period concerned, and the portrait of the two main characters. Indeed, this is the novels central triumph, the presentation and investigation of the psyche's of both men, Arthur and George. George is, actually, by far the more interesting of the two figures. Son of an immigrant who is now a respected vicar, he's largely isolated at school, a solemn lad who largely misunderstands (or just plain doesn't get) the mysterious behaviour of his fellow children (and, later, men), and turns into a largely isolated adult as well. This makes him an easy target when a series of poison-pen letters, graffiti and other strange incidents start happening in the village of Great Wyreley, culminating in a series of cattle "rippings". He refuses, though, to accept that what happens to him has anything to do with his race.
As I say, Barnes' picture of the two men is brilliant.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading The Sense of an Ending I was eager, no desperate, to find something else by Julian Barnes: Arthur and George, whilst considerably longer and slower than Sense of an Ending, did not disappoint. In the same way that Kate Summerscale's "Suspicions of Mr Whicher" used the murder of a child to give a portrait of the English middle classes in Victorian times, this work uses a series of livestock mutilations to throw a huge amount of insight into the mindset of Edwardian England, employing the magnificent, bombastic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the introspective, humble George Edalji as the spotlights. As one would expect from Barnes, the writing itself was always precise and intelligent. He has a way of asking all the questions that ought to be asked and supplying enough different answers to satisfy the most diverse of readers: by the end of the book it seemed to me that he identified himself more closely with George - who wrote a modestly successful manual on the subject of railway law- than with the literary giant Arthur: which is somewhat ironic. One thing I particularly like about his style is the way he dissects elegantly a simple statement or fact and then draws out a whole host of unexpected conclusions. He is also highly skilled in portraying the drama of some of the encounters: the meeting between Sir Arthur and the police chief Anson is a masterpiece.

For me the book was not quite as perfect as Sense of an Ending: there were a few "boring bits". In the middle of the book, for example, I felt there was a period of stagnation where the description of Arthur's relationship with Jean Leckie spent too long going nowhere: cleverly written, but ultimately superfluous.
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Format: Paperback
Barnes has produced a beautifully written detective story which explores celebrity, identity and race, and how these interplay with one another and the English legal system. Writing the two men's lives separately (their several meetings only begin half way through) is a wonderful device which helps Barnes explore their different views of the case (and wider world). Doyle is socially conservative but politically liberal, and has abandoned Christianity (his mother's Catholicism) for spiritualism. Edalji is also socially conservative, and similarly fails to fully connect with his father's Christianity. They both embrace `English' identity; Edalji however seems blind to the pervasive prejudice which lands him in prison, whereas Doyle casts himself as a dissenting voice within the bounds of civic England. Doyle comes to Edalji's aid, but the solicitor is not so overawed by the writer that he agrees with Doyle's analysis of the case; Edalji retains his faith in British justice. Written in the style of Victorian fiction, without the overlaboured descriptions of places and people, Barnes provides an insight into the early manipulation of public opinion in the pursuit of justice. It also contains what is surely one of the only literary (albeit brief) mentions of the first prime minister of Northern Ireland, James Craig.
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