From one of England's most esteemed novelists, an utter astonishment that
captures an era through one life celebrated internationally and another entirely
In the vast expanse of late-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 that 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 a gripping exploration of what goals drive us toward whatever
lies in waitan experience resounding with issues, no less relevant today, of
crime and spirituality; of identity and nationality; of what we think, what we
believe and what we can prove.
Intriguing, relentless and, most of all, moving, Arthur & George richly
extends the reach and achievement of a novelist described by the Philadelphia
Inquirer as "a dazzling mind in mercurial flight."
For an unbeatable historical mystery, look no further than Arthur & George; and it should go without saying that this is a must read for Sherlock Holmes fans who are interested in the man behind the books. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The Washington Post - Michael Dirda
Barnes's writing is, as usual, masterly throughout Arthur & George,
not only as the pages shift from one man's consciousness to the other's but
also in the way their author keeps the reader on edge. Facts are interpreted,
then reinterpreted; the bigoted speak convincingly; nothing turns out quite as
expected; and even the book's coda delivers a final shock.
Starred Review. Shortlisted for the Booker, this novel about love, guilt, identity and honor is a triumph of storytelling, taking the form Barnes perfected in Flaubert's Parrot (1985) and stretching it yet again.
Starred Review. The precision of the style suits the decorum of the period and serves to underline the warm, impulsive generosity of Doyle's support, which saved an innocent man from ruin. A triumph.
Library Journal - Barbara Hoffert
Starred Review. The book picks up like a whirlwind when Arthur and George meet at last; and though a few early passages can seem a bit leisurely, it finally make powerful sense to see how these men arrived where they did. A beautifully modulated work; highly recommended.
The New York Times - Terrence Rafferty
Julian Barnes has written a deeply English novel, in the grand manner, about
the sorts of existential questions the English on the whole prefer to leave to
the French. Arthur and George conceals its contemplation of the
imponderables slyly, discreetly hiding it behind the curtains while scenes of
Dickensian force and color play out in firelit rooms ... Arthur and George
is finally about how Englishmen protect themselves from the heaviest emotional
weather, what hard, lifelong work it is just to keep out the chill and the
Daily Express - Andrew Martin Arthur & George acquires a hypnotic force. The character study,
the feel for the period and the dialogue are all beautifully done. And the way
in which the police close in on Edalji is genuinely chilling . . . the mark of a
The Independent on Sunday - Simon O'Hagan
A beautiful and engrossing work which brings together some classic Barnesian themes (love, identity), introduces some new ones (spirituality, guilt and innocence), and hangs them all on a real-life miscarriage of justice from 100 years ago that was always going to be a gift for the first writer to spot its potential for re-imagining . . . We are in a late-19th century world of fob chains and propelling pencils, of order, duty, and propriety. But dark forces are at work, and the manner in which George becomes a victim of them is all the more shocking for the elegance and restraint of Barnes's narrative voice . . . It's like seeing Henry James turned loose on The Shawshank Redemption.
The Scotsman - David Robinson
One of the year's finest novels . . . This is the kind of book Arthur Conan Doyle could never have written (far deeper psychological insight, far more sophisticated use of irony and awareness of the limits of fiction), yet it has all of the master's narrative panache.
The Times - PD James
From the first paragraphs we know ourselves to be in the hands of a major novelist and are borne forward by a compelling narrative, beautifully controlled, which combines the satisfactions of biography, social history and the excitement of a real-life detective story. This novel is Barnes at his best.
Evening Standard - David Sexton
What Barnes has done is to imagine, describe and dramatise this true story with fantastic control and subtlety . . . probably Barnes's best yet.
The Sunday Telegraph - Caroline Moore
Excellent . . . Both meticulously researched and vividly imagined, both gripping and thoughtful . . . You will turn the pages with mounting and almost intolerable tension.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Roger Oldfield Arthur and George: the truth It's a very fine novel. As an expert on the Edalji family, though, I spent the whole time thinking about the extent to which it reflects the historical record. There are points at which it departs deliberately from actual events, and there are... Read More
Rated of 5
by bob Amazing historical fiction If you enjoy historical fiction or mysteries you should enjoy this book.
This is an interesting story and well written. Mr Barnes' ability to move back and forth between 'Arthur' and 'George' is remarkable---the nuances of personality that he is... Read More
About the author: Julian Barnes was born in Leicester,
England, in 1946, Over the past 30 years he has written novels,
non-fiction, short stories and two series (one in his own name and one as Dan
Kavanagh). He has won a number of literary prizes and has been nominated
for the Booker Prize three times. In France, he is the only writer to have won
both the Prix Médicis and the Prix Fémina, and in 2004 he became a Commandeur
de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Partial bibliography (novels & collections) Metroland (1980) Before She Met Me (1982) Flaubert's Parrot (1984) Staring At the Sun (1986) A History of the World In 10 1/2 Chapters (1989) The Porcupine (1992) Cross Channel: Stories (1996) England, England (1998) The Lemon Table: Stories (2004) Arthur And George (2005)
About Arthur & George A photo of
Arthur Conan Doyle...
Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alices Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.
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