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Arthur & George Hardcover – 7 Jul 2005


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; 1st edition edition (7 July 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224077031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224077033
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 14.8 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 194,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By bookpike on 26 Oct 2005
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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81 of 84 people found the following review helpful By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Sep 2005
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. W. H. Konarzewski on 24 Jun 2012
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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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By James Aitken on 2 Aug 2006
Format: Paperback
I was given this book as a present and was initially sceptical as to whether or not I would like it. Now that I have finally gotten round to reading it I found that it was a really delightful and absorbing read.

The plot dealing with the Great Wyrley Outrages, the trial of George Edalji and the appalling miscarriage of justice that ensued was gripping and Barnes keeps the book moving along at a good pace. The details of the police investigation and trial are interspersed with details of the life of Arthur Conan Doyle, of Sherlock Holmes fame, who subsequently becomes embroiled in the drama. The crime behind the Great Wyrley Outrages still has the capacity to shock even at this length of time and the description of the investigation and subsequent trial is compelling as one reads with ever mounting tension and dread of the failure of the legal system and of officialdom.

The imagination of the author is vividly on display throughout this book right from the begining which recounts the lives of two small boys whose paths are not to cross until much later in life.

The writing gives the outward appearance at least of being very thoroughly researched and I really had the feeling that the stories of both men were brought to life on the pages of this book. There are also fascinating insights into old fashioned values, spiritualism and the history behind the establishment of criminal appeals in England (which the case recounted in this book was instrumental in establishing).

All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable read with the added benefit that I feel I have learned something.
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