This somewhat odd book was shortlisted for the 2005 Mann Booker prize and also shortlisted for the 2007 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. It tells the story of two men, raised very differently, who eventually come together over an injustice.
Arthur turns out to be Arthur Connon Doyle, and did you know he was a medical doctor, specializing in the eye? He was, as you probably do know, keenly interested in spiritualism, having believed in the fairy photograph hoax.
George is the son of a Parsee minister father, and a Scotish mother. His father has a parish, is strict and morally upright. George is a quiet, shy lad and eventually goes on to become a solicitor.
During his later childhood, the family began to be threatened with letters of various sorts, and at the turn of the century, livestock was found slashed and maimed, and for reasons that were never clear to me, the police centered their investigations on George Edalji. He was subsequently found guilty and sentenced to hard labor.
This is where Arthur comes in – and fights for George, enabling his final release. It is said that this case showed that there needed to be a system for judicial review, and one was devised because of this case. The whole thing known as the Great Wyrley Outrages can be found here.
I was enjoying it very much right up to the part when George is unjustly accused of the animal maimings. I just found it awful. The writing, being Julian Barnes and all, was great. The content was distressing. I don’t like being distressed. I like my world to be permanently sunny and distress-free. Yeah, don’t we all.