2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Subtle and Sophisticated
Beryl Bainbridge has to be one of the greatest of all English authors. All of her books are superb and Master Georgie, her third book of historical fiction, is different, but no less superb, than the two preceeding. I think Master Georgie has not been praised quite highly enough because its subject matter may be less familiar to Americans than Bainbridge's two previous...
Published on Jan. 9 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars ugh...I think I'll skip dinner.
I found this a very disturbing book of the type that you like against your own best instincts. I'm not saying it's bad, no. I'm just saying that if you want a nice, friendly, romantic (within reason) war book, look somewhere else. Children shouldn't read this, but it's good. Forgive me if I'm making no sense, but this is a very tricky book to review.
Published on Nov. 19 2002 by Celine Benoit
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Subtle and Sophisticated,
By A Customer
This review is from: Master Georgie (Paperback)Beryl Bainbridge has to be one of the greatest of all English authors. All of her books are superb and Master Georgie, her third book of historical fiction, is different, but no less superb, than the two preceeding. I think Master Georgie has not been praised quite highly enough because its subject matter may be less familiar to Americans than Bainbridge's two previous historicals. As a European, however, Master Georgie is definitely my favorite. It is quieter and more subtle, but I think it has much more emotional depth.
Bainbridge is always a little cryptic with her subject matter and Master Georgie is no exception. Don't let this put you off the book, though--the undercurrents of energy and intrigue make this short book riveting and well worth anyone's time.
The protagonist, Master Georgie, is actually George Hardy, a Victorian English dissolute and surgeon who, one day, decides to pack up his family and head for Turkey. Although his intentions are to provide medical care to the wounded during the Crimean war, we all know things rarely go as planned. Suffice it to say that Murphy's Law holds just as true for Master Georgie as it does for us.
The battlefield scenes are some of the best I have ever read, not surprising with Bainbridge. Although the scenes are brutal and sometimes even gruesome, this marvelous author has managed to infuse them with a sardonic wit that rivals anything I have ever read. Bainbridge is true to her subject matter in these scenes. Bainbridge chooses to forgo romanticism in favor of the reality of confusion and futility that surely must have existed on the battlefields of the Crimea. Lest you think she's making fun of her subjects, let me tell you she most assuredly is not. She is compassionate, but she wisely keeps that compassion from coloring the facts. I think she is simply interpreting events with her own brand of intelligence and irony.
Master Georgie can meander at times, but Bainbridge has even this meandering under complete control. She also tempers it with vivid details. We really feel as if we are reading an actual eyewitness account to the war.
Master Georgie is a short book, really more of a novella than a novel, and you can easily read it in one sitting if you so desire. Don't let its length fool you, though. Master Georgie is a dark book and one that really packs a punch. It is stylish, sophisticated and sardonic. In short, it is a book that is worthy of all the praise it has garnered.
5.0 out of 5 stars this book is riveting and brilliant,
This review is from: Master Georgie (Paperback)I loved this book. I have read a lot about the tragic Crimean war and the many forces that contributed to such a chaotic disaster. A way of warfare was at its end and Beryl shows with surgical skill the flaws of character that were orchestrating the events. She paints characters that are unforgettable, vivid, full of humanity.
This is the first of her books I have read and I will buy them all now.
4.0 out of 5 stars A little confusing,
This review is from: Master Georgie (Paperback)Our book club chose this because Beryl's fans selected this as their favourite of her works so she could get a special Booker prize. She said people had to read this 3 times before they really get it. Its brilliance is in the compact portrayal of a world and a war in 5 brief images. Worth at least 2 reads.
4.0 out of 5 stars An engrossing novel about love and war,
This review is from: Master Georgie (Audio Cassette)Geroge Hardy, a surgeon and amateur photographer, discovers his father dead in the bed of another woman and hastens to bring the body home before his mother learns of it. Three people help with this task, and their lives are irrevocaly changed because of it.
The story is told through the eyes of those three people close to Master Georige. The first is Myrtle, a young orphan who is accepted and raised by the Hardy family. She immediately falls in love with Georgie, a love that will carry her from the streets of Liverpool to the battlefields of the Crimean War. Next is Pompey Jones, a young street boy who helps move the body of George's father and then discovers George's passion for young men. The last is Dr. Potter, a family friend who follows George all the way to the Battle of Inkermann, never understanding George's aversion to women or why he wants to attach himself to a unit during the awful war. Through their eyes, we watch George change from a young doctor in England dealing with his father's troublesome death to the hardened field doctor trying to save lives during a time of war.
This is a fantastic historical novel, with some of the most descriptive war scenes I've read in quite some time. Bainbridge makes you feel the confusion, fear and dread that the soldiers faced both due to battle and due to disease. At the same time, she shows how one life can effect others, either for better or for worse. A highly engrossing novel.
3.0 out of 5 stars ugh...I think I'll skip dinner.,
This review is from: Master Georgie (Paperback)I found this a very disturbing book of the type that you like against your own best instincts. I'm not saying it's bad, no. I'm just saying that if you want a nice, friendly, romantic (within reason) war book, look somewhere else. Children shouldn't read this, but it's good. Forgive me if I'm making no sense, but this is a very tricky book to review.
3.0 out of 5 stars Historical fiction,
This review is from: Master Georgie (Paperback)Master Georgie is a novel set in the time of the Crimean War. Through the eyes of three people close to Master Georgie, Myrtle, a girl believed to be Georgie's sister, Dr. Potter, a geologist and Pompey Jones, the photography assistant, we follow him from Liverpool to the battlefield of the Crimean War.
This way to write about a person and his happenings is well known through Ian Pears An Instance of the Fingerpost. And can be a perfect way to keep the readers interest and also the readers capability to live with the story. But Beryl Bainbridge do not master this art in this book. The language is too flat, without feelings, and the plots are sometimes too cryptical to be understood. I had to read several parts more than once to be able to understand what it all really was about, and to understand which lenses where used.
Still the book has some good parts, among them are the battlefield scenes. And I also like the way Bainbridge use the meaning of the photography, to let us see snapshots of Master Georgie's life, using other people as lenses, as cameras.
The book is a short one, less than 200 pages, and the surprising ending helps to give meaning to the story.
Britt Arnhild Lindland
2.0 out of 5 stars ODE TO THE CRIMEA,
This review is from: Master Georgie (Paperback)The back cover of this book praises Beryl Bainbridge for her "deadpan prose" and her "emotionless sentences". It's ironic how attibutes like these can possibly be descriptions of a good writer. It is these very faults that bring about the ruin of MASTER GEORGIE.
The novel spans the years 1846-1854. Master Georgie, or George Hardy, is the young son of a rich Liverpool merchant. He is a shadow figure in the sense that he never takes over the narration of the story. That is left up to three other characters. One of these is Myrtle, an orphan who was taken in by the Hardys as a child and is deeply in love with George. She follows him in his restless wanderings of Liverpool. One night, in a sordid episode they find George's father dead in the bed of a prostitute. Along with another character who does narration, Pompey Jones (a street hustler), they are able to cover up the scandal that would have hurt and tarnished his family. The three characters are bonded by this secret for the rest of their lives, and as the novel progresses this deepens into love, both sexual and spiritually. It becomes a love triangle which causes a lot of pain and little satisfaction. The last voice that enters into the picture is the eccentric Dr. Potter who has a hankering for George's sister. Nobody likes the guy because instead of confronting life, he dwells instead in books, mainly the classical writers of Rome and Greece. When you start a conversation with him, he begins quoting from an author instead of communicating sense to you. Towards the latter part of the book, all the characters become involved in the Crimean War. Or actually George becomes involved in the war and wherever he is it sucks the others with him. Just like all wars, this one changes the future of not just the combatants but also of the bystanders.
The parts of the book set in Liverpool are quite good and interesting. They seem to be written with more passion and personal knowledge than the war scenes. The books problem lies in the deadpan writing. It's like watching the stand up comedy of Steven Wright, where a monotone voice is supposed to make you laugh by its very absence of emotion. It's the same thing here. We are supposed to feel horror and love through understatement when neither of these emotions are capable of understatement. The closer I got to the end, the more bored I got. I skipped over some pages to get to the end. I didn't care about the character's fates. I just wanted to say i finished it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Dark Historical Fiction,
This review is from: Master Georgie (Paperback)Ms. Beryl Bainbridge writes Historical Fiction with as much skill as any writer, and much better than others who attempt the genre. Her stories rarely have definitive separations between what actually happened, and what might have happened to the characters she creates. The Crimean War is the setting this time, and while historically noteworthy is not as familiar as some of her other subjects, like The Titanic, or the doomed Scott Expedition to the South Pole. What is consistent is her ability to jump about through time periods without ever losing credibility. Each of her books reads as if a unique pen is behind each one. The hand of course is the same, however the moods created are remarkably singular.
The character that is the book's title is a complex human study, or if you prefer, a very intricate person but occupied with a mind and personality as muddled, as it is diverse. A grotesque death scene is the entrance for one of the narrator's of the book, an individual that would have lived as a street urchin but for chance, and an ambiguous bit of goodwill. A second street personality with many more wiles and flexible conduct also becomes a member of Master Georgie's entourage. This second narrator has a unique view of events, as he is close when Master Georgie requires, for the latter's sexuality is repressed at best. These are just two people who eventually head to the middle of The Crimean War, and the question that keeps shadowing the reader is why?
Escape from the latter half of 19th century London is an easy answer for George, but what of the others? Taking a trip toward an impending war as George's groupies is one matter, staying in the midst of a war is much more puzzling. This is one of the most difficult of Ms. Bainbridge's books that I have read. Previous works have often served as a metaphor for the time they occupy, or the closing act in a World that is about to undergo great disruptive change. This work is not as apparently decisive.
One characteristic is consistent, and that is her master's grasp of language. A lapful of cherries that serve as a metaphor will haunt a reader for some time. Her images of the dead and dying are less grotesquely graphic than most writers portray, but are far more disturbing than other wartime battles. This may not be the best of her work if it is the first of hers you experience, however if you can successfully decipher this one, that are several others that are much more comfortable to read.
3.0 out of 5 stars Too many unanswered questions,
This review is from: Master Georgie (Paperback)I know Beryl Bainbrige is a great writer but...this was my first Bainbridge novel and I didn't enjoy it very much. Am I not getting it? I have so many questions unanswered by this book. Why were Dr. Potter and Myrtle suffering through the Crimean war when they didn't have to be there? Was it Myrtle's utter devotion that kept her there? Why was Potter there? Were they camp followers? Also, did Myrtle bear Georgie and his wife's children for them because the wife couldn't? Or am I dreaming? There seems so much allusion in this book and I feel dumb for not getting what the other reviewers are getting from it. For me, it wasn't clear or easy to follow and I am not a stupid person. I'm a bit disappointed but will try another book of hers and hope that I will enjoy it more..
4.0 out of 5 stars Bainbridge does it again,
This review is from: Master Georgie (Paperback)Bainbridge is simply a genius.Master Georgie is a classic.An entralling read,full of off beat characters whose hope and dreams are tragically mistimed.Their miserable lives entwined poetically reaching a climax in a wasteful war. A brilliantly gripping ripping yarn of a story subtly and savagely told by a master.
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Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge (Paperback - Oct. 15 1999)
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