Arthur & GeorgeAuthor: Julian Barnes
Imprint: Jonathon Cape
Featured in the October, 2005 magazine
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Arthur and George grow up worlds and miles apart in late nineteenth-century Britain: Arthur in shabby-genteel Edinburgh; George in the vicarage of a small Staffordshire village. Arthur becomes a doctor, and then a writer; George a solicitor in Birmingham. Arthur is to become one of the most famous men of his age; George remains in hardworking obscurity. But as the new century begins, they are brought together by a sequence of events which made sensational headlines at the time as The Great Wyrley Outrages. George Edjali's father is Indian, his mother Scottish. When the family begins to receive vicious anonymous letters, many about their son, they put it down to racial prejudice. They appeal to the police, to no less than the Chief Constable, but to their dismay he appears to suspect George of being the author of the letters. Then someone starts slashing horses and livestock. Again the police seem to suspect the shy, aloof Birmingham solicitor. He is arrested and, on the flimsiest evidence, sent to trial, found guilty and sentenced to seven years' hard labour. Arthur Conan Doyle, famous as the creator of the world's greatest detective, is mourning his first wife (having been chastely in love for ten years with the woman who was to become his second) when he hears about the Edjali case. Incensed at this obvious miscarriage of justice, he is galvanised into trying to clear George's name.
I suggest that you avoid other reviews of Barnes' novel and perhaps give the publisher's blurb a miss as well. The only thing I would recommend you read is Arthur & George itself, even if this time I'm just asking you to take my word for it.
Review by: Gareth Beal
AwardsAward: Shortlisted, IMPAC Dublin Literary Award Year: 2007
Category:Fiction General Fiction