Saturday, February 16, 2008

Arthur & George by Julian Barnes

First sentence:

"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."

My thoughts:

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

ISBN-10: 030726310X
ISBN-13: 9780307263100
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Year: 2006
# of Pages: 386
LibraryThing Page

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