"A child wants to see."
"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 wait–an 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."
An interesting book about late 19th century English life as seen through the eyes of two men who seem very different but who also share some similarities. At times I felt the story lagged as the author focused on George and then a long section on Arthur, but when the two men meet and Arthur agrees to help George, the book regained my interest. I also liked learning about how Arthur created his fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.
Date read: 2/16/2008
Book #: 9
Challenge: Man Booker Challenge
Rating: 3*/5 = good
Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
# of Pages: 386