NOVEL: Arthur & George
AUTHOR: Julian Barnes
YEAR OF PUBLICATION: 2005
I’ve read a few other books by Julian Barnes–Flaubert’s Parrot and A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters, both considered classics, as well as Talking it Over (and its sequel, Love, etc). There are certain commonalities in Barnes’ work: a concern about narrative, and narration, perception, and the indeterminacy of truth. The books are extremely clever, with a postmodern sensibility, and a very playful use of language. I enjoyed them all, and have always admired the author’s wit and erudition.
Arthur & George is a bit different. Less experimental than Barnes’ other books, a bit more accessible, a mainstream best seller, this one is based on a true story, a crime investigated by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (the famous creator of Sherlock Holmes), in which he cleared the name of George Edalji, a man wrongfully convicted and imprisoned. It’s a rather fascinating look at the lives of the two men, and how they intersected at a pivotal moment for them both, It’s also an interesting look at legal history (the miscarriage of justice suffered by Mr. Edalji was influential in the creation of the Court of Criminal Appeal for England) and at Victorian culture. This very engrossing novel is full of ideas: ruminations on racism, mortality, morality, hypocrisy, religion, justice, redemption, love, what we owe to our families, our communities, ourselves, And above all, it has heart–there’s more real emotion here than I’ve experienced in any of Barnes’ other fiction.
RATING (one to five whistles, with five being the best): 4 Whistles
HOW TO PURCHASE: Amazon
Laura LaVelle is an attorney and writer who lives in Connecticut, in a not quite 100-year-old house, along with her husband, two daughters, and a cockatiel.
Laura can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lead-In Image (“Sherlock Holmes”) Courtesy of J Walters / Shutterstock.com
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