Thursday, 14 May 2015

Book Review: Arthur and George - Julian Barnes

So I chose this because I got given a copy when it was on tv and it had been lying around on my desk for weeks. I don't know if I would have chosen it otherwise - the story itself didn't initially interest me and I didn't watch the TV adaptation. It actually took me a bit of an age to get through - most of it I didn't find particularly gripping and it wasn't something that I felt compelled to pick up and read through. I found the whole of the first section massively frustrating because you knew exactly what was going to happen and were careering towards this slightly ridiculous outcome without being able to do anything about it (obviously). This was the part I found the most slow-going.

Once the arrest had been made however and the trial started I enjoyed it a bit more - I still wouldn't say I loved it but it did become more engaging for me. Again though, it was so clear what was going to happen I didn't feel any jeopardy whilst reading it. I should also say here that the early Arthur parts of the book I found endlessly dull - I get that the point was to highlight the differences in upbringing etc but I just found it boring. Actually, I'm not too sure what the point of all the Arthur stuff was aside from him taking on the case under his own steam. I hated all the stuff about his wife and mistress, I didn't care for him at all, and for me those sections just distracted from the actual point of the story - seeing as I was struggling with getting on board with these aspects anyway, the Arthur parts just pulled my interest even further away!

Also - I found the entire last few pages utterly baffling. Obviously this is somewhat based on real-life accounts, but I couldn't tell you what this added to the rest of the novel or why it was included. Personal interest? I don't know, but it definitely changed the tone of the book for me at the end.
This is probably one of those books that would be a good book to study, as there are obviously themes that run throughout - Britishness, race, otherness, etc, blah - but I found myself rolling my eyes quite a lot. One bit I did enjoy though were the chapter names 'beginning with an ending' etc; I thought this was a clever way of connecting the story up.

Wouldn't read it again! 4/10

Read it? Enjoyed it? Agree? Disagree?

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