2007: 158. Arthur & George

A child wants to see.  It always begins like this, and it began like this then.  A child wanted to see.”

Arthur & George, Julian Barnes

Oh man oh man I am ambivalent about this book.  Like, purchased it on a Memorial Day trip to Seattle, started it on the plane, decided that I was not enjoying reading it (even dreading reading it), and let it sit for months, and then, in an expanse of shame (since I totally browbeat Jon into letting me buy a new book that I probably didn’t really need), finished it and sort of liked it in the end.  And, when I really examine myself, I realize the reason I put it down was because there is a great injustice and railroading of an innocent man (for repulsive racist reasons, no less) that takes place in this book that made me almost physically ill, I hated it so much.  But I must admit that the reason I hated it was because it was so well-written that I was feeling ill about the injustice.  So, oh snaps, Julian Barnes.  I didn’t always like reading your book, but I must concede that you did a grand job writing it.

The story goes back and forth between the life of Arthur (i.e. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), who is a typical Victorian man (despite his famous creation) and George Edalji, the half Indian son of a parson (born in India, married to a white woman), who is trained as a solicitor but is framed for a terrible crime he clearly didn’t commit.  He goes to prison, his life is ruined, but when his situation becomes a cause celebre, Arthur gets involved.  The novel tells both of their stories - their inner lives and outer lives, and makes them both live for us.  As I said above, I didn’t always enjoy reading it, but I think its an excellent book.

Recommended for:  Doyle fans who want to see another side of things; people who want to consider what its like to handle a great injustice and survive it.


Date/Place Completed: 10/3/07; D.C.

Categories: Fiction

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017