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Beryl Bainbridge seems drawn to disaster. First she tackled the Unfortunate Scott expedition to the South Pole in The Birthday Boys; later (but emphatically pre-DiCaprio) came the sinking of the Titanic, in Every Man for Himself. Now, in her third historical novel (and her 16th overall), she takes on the Crimean War, and the result is a slim, gripping volume with all of the doomed intensity of the Light Brigade's charge--but, thankfully, without the Tennysonian bombast. "Some pictures," a character confides, "would only cause alarm to ordinary folk." There's a warning concealed here, and one that easily disturbed readers would do well to heed: Master Georgie is intense, disturbing, revelatory--and not always pretty to look at.
Bainbridge's narrative circles around the enigmatic figure of George Hardy, a surgeon, amateur photographer, alcoholic and repressed homosexual who counters the dissipation of his prosperous Liverpool life by heading for the Crimean Peninsula in 1854. His journey and subsequent tour of duty are told in three very different voices: Myrtle, an orphan whose lifelong loyalty to her "Master Georgie" becomes an overriding obsession; Pompey Jones, street urchin, fire-eater, photographer and George's sometime lover; and Dr. Potter, George's scholarly brother-in-law, whose retreat from the war's carnage and into books takes on a tinge of madness.
United by a sudden death in a Liverpool brothel in 1846, these characters plumb the curious workings of love, war, class and fate. In between, Bainbridge frames an unforgettable series of tableaux morts: a dying soldier, one lens of his glasses "fractured into a spider's web"; a decapitated leg, toes "poking through the shreds of a cavalry boot"; two dead men "on their knees, facing one another, propped up by the pat-a-cake thrust of their hands." Glimpsed as if sideways and then passed over in language that is as understated as it is lovely, these are images that sear into the brain. Master Georgie is full of such moments, horrors painted with an exquisite brush. --Mary Park --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
It is hard to think of anyone now writing who understands the human heart as Beryl Bainbridge does (THE TIMES)
Another masterly exploration by an author at the peak of her form ...She was always good at funny dialogue and acute observation of the oddities of human behaviour, but her recent historical explorations have given full reign to her startling powers of d (DAILY TELEGRAPH)
A quirky and compelling book, packed with witty observations and extraordinary characters, which really ought to have won the Booker prize, but missed it by a whisker. (DAILY MAIL)
The economy of Bainbridge's writing, for which she is famous, results in a slender novel with an astonishing range. (INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY)
This is an elegant novel written with amazing clarity and brevity. It is a story of love, loss and pain with which we can all identify.Published 11 days ago by Janjon
An excellent read though not everyone likes the merging of fact and fiction.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
this is a strange little book. Excerpts written by various characters, all focussing one the Master Georgie of the title, except they don't really tell us that much about him. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
The writing is superb and a pageturner. Full marks, and thanks for the entertainment. But at book’s end I was left puzzling over the author’s choice of treatments. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Cathy
Not a book I can recommend. She is a good author.
However. the book left me dissatisfied with my choice.
Bainbridge, Beryl. Master Georgie
Historical novels have a habit of being history in fancy dress. Read more