Monday, June 20, 2011

Review: Arthur & George by Julian Barnes

Based on the real life case of George Edalji, Julian Barnes' Arthur & George explores the lives and relationship between these two men. With the tone and feel of a Sherlock Holmes' story, Barnes crafts a tale fascinates from the start. The story starts as the two boys grow into adulthood, each following their separate paths and separate lives; aside from when George reads The Hound of the Baskervilles, the reader is left to wonder what it is these men have in common and how their paths will intersect.

The story focuses primarily on the misfortunes of George when he is accused and found guilty of a crime he did not commit. The tacit racism prevalent in English society at the time conflicts with George's naive view of the world, which makes his plight both heartbreaking and maddening. Doyle's interest in the case proves to have ramifications beyond this particular situation, even though it is never resolved to the satisfaction of Doyle, Edalji, or the reader.

Barnes' probing of the psyches and thoughts of these two men makes for a rich and satisfying piece of historical fiction, and the narrative itself will keep you thinking long after the cover is closed. From Vintage International Books and available from your local, independent bookseller. (Shop local, shop makes a difference!)

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