I am so glad I just finished reading The Hound of the Baskervilles. At times I felt I was reading Arthur Conan Doyle's biography, and the line between fiction and nonfiction has become very blurred for me. Much of what I read will become my belief about Doyle, even though I know it shouldn't. Barnes writes in a note at the end of the book that quotes and excerpts from newspapers are all factual.
This is the story of two men, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji, one a famous writer, and one a quiet solicitor wrongly accused of a crime. I found the prose compelling and enthralling as I read the life story of both men, and how they eventually met, and how their stories became entwined. Doyle comes off as priggish and arrogant as his character, Sherlock Holmes. Edalji, son of a Parsee Vicor, is very British as well, with his stiff upper lip and resignation to his fate.
Barnes is very ambitious with his story, and I quite enjoyed it. It felt a little weak at the end, as he tried to connect the ideas of faith, and spiritism and the characters. It was rushed in content and yet slow at the same time. However, overall, a great read, with meticulous details and a wonderful telling of an obscure event in British history. Barnes is now two for two with me, having read and enjoyed A History of the World in 10.5 Chapters.
from the Guardian (UK) " Arthur & George is Julian Barnes's inventive account of a true and important miscarriage of justice... What Barnes adds to the tale--it was cause celebre of its day--is imagination, insight, passion, and of course his beautiful writing."