Review of 'Arthur & George'

Arthur & George by Julian Barnes

George Edalji is a quiet young man living with his family in rural England at the turn of the 20th century who wants nothing more than a simple life as a solicitor when he and his family are subjected to a campaign of hate mail and psychological attacks. He is inexplicably accused of a series of cattle mutilations by the local police. He is eventually found guilty of the crime and serves his time in jail. Arthur Conan Doyle is, of course, the famous author of the Sherlock Holmes stories but is shown here as quite human with a troubled past and a satisfactory, yet not satisfactory, marriage. His life in the spot-light is distracted when he hears of the Edalji case which he then focuses his efforts on - He KNOWS George to be innocent and wants to see this injustice righted.

The two men are quite different - George the introvert and Arthur very much the extrovert. Arthur's troubling personal life contrasts with George's somewhat quiet and plain life. They are both shown to be more than human.

An interesting novel that will appeal, no doubt, to fans of Arthur Conan Doyle or books of the period. Barnes has, evidently, stuck very much to this story of real events only delving into fiction when the information is simply not available in the official records of the time. I found the ending somewhat of a let down and disappointing yet in keeping with what has come before and, of course, the reality of the time. George is a tragic figure and it is difficult to see how he is treated and his pride wounded - Is it prejudice? I find it hard to believe not in that day and age…

Quite long and descriptive in places but this again very much in keeping with the times in which this book is placed. Very well written and transports the reader into the situation very adeptly - We, as readers also KNOW that George is innocent. Why? Because we have seen life through his eyes. Only a very good author can do this.

The story keeps you guessing right up to…nearly…the end…then, unfortunately, beyond. Life is not simple sometimes.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2013-03-23

Genre: General Fiction

Publication Date: 2005