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Master Georgie [Hardcover]

Beryl Bainbridge
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

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

Review

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 text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

*A brilliant novel about one family's experiences in the Crimean war --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

'The First Plate. Liverpool. 1846.'
MYRTLE IN THE PRESENCE OF DEATH

'I was twelve years old the first time Master Georgie ordered me to stand stock still and not blink. He had me rest my hand on Mr Hardy’s shoulder. Mr Hardy didn’t have to be told to keep still because he was dead.'

'The Final Plate. The Crimea. 1854.'
SMILE, BOYS, SMILE

'“What we want is a posed group of survivors to show the folks back home. I need another soldier. Fetch one.”
Master Georgie was carried to the camera. He slumped forward and the soldier to his right supported him round the waist.
“Smile, boys, smile,” urged the photographer. Behind, on the brow of the hill, was Myrtle, circling round and round, like a bird above a robbed nest.'

Bewteen these frozen moments the relationship of Master Georgie and the foundling Myrtle develops, a relationship born of love, obsession, dependence and trust.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Beryl Bainbridge wrote seventeen novels, two travel books and five plays for stage and television, she was shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times, and won literary awards including the Whitbread Prize and the Author of the Year Award at the British Book Awards. She died in July 2010. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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