Master Georgie review ì 103

Master Georgie

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A fire eater and finally a photographer's assistant There is the pompous melancholy Dr Potter who studies the classics and the new science of Darwin no less than he ponders the singular misadventure in a Liverpool brothel that has so ominously linked his own fortune with that of a servant girl a scamp and his brother inlaw Master Georgie. Read July 2010Master Georgie in one tweet sized chunkShort and apparently simple Master Georgie is an enjoyable snapshot of lives and the Crimean WarIt is a rare delight to encounter a book of such apparent simplicity as Master Georgie The narration – split between three voices – is compelling and smooth the prose wonderfully uncluttered It is overloaded neither with explicit themes or complicated ideas There is no sense of a writer trying to be clever Master Georgie is storytelling of the finest orderAnd yet I use the phrase ‘apparent simplicity’ advisedly for the simplicity of style masks a cunningly composed narrative which uestions how one can ever know something simply by looking at it In Master Georgie Beryl Bainbridge confronts the reader with an oddly compelling statement you cannot know these charactersWhen war breaks out in the Crimea George Hardy surgeon and photographer sets off to provide whatever services he can offer in support of the British effort With him travel his adoptive sister Myrtle amateur geologist Dr Potter and photographer’s assistant and fire eater Pompey Jones The narration is split between them starting in the cold back streets of 19th century Liverpool travelling through sweltering Constantinople and on to the battlefields of the Crimea As each seeks to shed light on Master Georgie as Myrtle terms him a picture begins to develop of everyone but him He remains the dark spot on the plateThe Crimean War was the first to be extensively documented by photography and one gets the impression that Bainbridge spent a great deal of time searching for inspiration for her characters by looking at these pictures only to come up with uestions than answers That is how the book reads a snapshot of a long dead anonymous person who can never be resurrected not even through literature Master Georgie is all about what lurks beneath the surface of a photograph the context facets of themselves people choose to hide from the world the misinterpretations that people ascribe to surface images At one point a fellow character enuires as to why Myrtle often looks sad “It’s the way I am on the outside” she replies “Inside I assure you I’m uite happy” This seems to sum up Master Georgie nicelyThere is an element of satire here too There are two targets for this specifically the bombast of Tennyson’s ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ and generally those who gallantly march off at the first hint of war assuming victory It reminded me very much of The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell with its portrayal of out of place Britishness a pompous sense of worth that is never fully punctured even while confronted by death disease and defeat There are some absurdly funny moments The wealthy British bring trunk loads of possessions and are accompanied as far as the Constantinople by their spouses and children as though for a bit of a summer jaunt There is a funny scene when having arrived in Constantinople they go to the opera only for it to descend into a brawl over a perceived indiscretion towards MyrtleThe satire is not biting though and surrounding it is a tender portrayal of life war and the conseuences of our actions Like the best war books one comes away feeling that it was all so bloody pointlessYet none of this is to say that Master Georgie is an easy book It is slippery never uite giving the reader what one wants or expects The drama is uiet unassuming Some of the supposedly dramatic aspects – particularly the shared and mysterious guilt the synopsis promises – didn’t really resonate with me at all The prime feeling I came away with was puzzlement I knew I had enjoyed the prose and the journey without really engaging with any of the characters; without being able to identify why Others I know have reacted to it with utter indifference Yet the fact remains that I enjoyed reading it and it continues to challenge and interest me a month later This was my first Beryl Bainbridge novel but I’m certainly going to read by her in the coming months7 out of 10

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Master Georgie George Hardy a surgeon and amateur photographer stands at the center of this intense searing unsettling novel that takes him from a comfortable life in prosperous nineteenth century Liverpool to the battlefield at Inkerman and the horrors of the Crimean War His story begins and ends in front of a camera but Master Georgie i. Another shortlisted novel from the perennial Booker bridesmaid this one probably deserved better in 1998 than losing out to Ian McEwan's Amsterdam which for me was one of the weaker winnersThis book is a fairly short novel with an unusual structure It has six chapters each of which bears the title and date of a photographic plate These tell fragments of the story of George Hardy a doctor and amateur photographer told by three narrators each of whom get two chapters and they all follow him from Liverpool to the Crimean war The narrators are Myrtle an adopted sister who has had two of George's children the chancer former fireeater and photographer Pompey Jones who is also George's lover and the older Dr Potter George's brother in law a dull geologistThe story offers some striking imagery and a wide variety of allusion starts with plenty of comedy and later becomes visceral and unsentimental in its depictions of the chaos of war A very impressive novel

Beryl Bainbridge á 3 read

S than the subject of a photograph Three voices record the series of strange events bad judgments good intentions and ill luck that shape the destiny of Master Georgie There is Myrtle a foundling rescued by an accident of fate that secures her an ambiguous position in the Hardy household There is Pompey Jones a resourceful street boy then. Photos Out of Focus Roger Fenton's van in the CrimeaInstead of chapters the late Dame Beryl Bainbridge's historical novel is divided into Plates with titles such as Girl in the Presence of Death 1846 and Funeral Procession Shadowed by Beatrice October 1854 Each of the six sections includes the taking of a posed photograph either by or including one or of the characters in the brief novel As the last four sections take place during or in the run up to the Crimean War it is probable that Bainbridge was thinking of the pioneering war photographer Roger Fenton; one of the main characters in the book works as assistant to some famous photographer who is never named He appears however to take the last group photograph Smile Boys Smile dated November 1854 You can easily imagine it a small group of weary soldiers some seated some standing including a civilian and a young woman in military dress Separately the motifs occur everywhere in Fenton's photographs though I cannot find any one example that combines them All the same the best explanation I can offer for this strange and rather disjointed novel is that Dame Beryl was starting from such an image real and imagined and working backwards to tell its story Soldiers in the Crimean WarBainbridge's title is misleading The young Liverpool surgeon George Hardy known by his former housemaid and devoted admirer as Master Georgie is indeed the continuing thread linking all six sections but he is not the most interesting figure in any of them Instead his story is told by three alternating narrators One is Myrtle the adopted foundling who in a story rather like Jacueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs is given an education and goes to the Crimea posing as George's sister The second is Pompey Jones a former street urchin and sideshow performer who takes up photography and goes out as assistant to the great photographer Both Myrtle and Pompey become at one time or another George's lovers The third narrator is Dr Potter George's brother in law a rather stuffy academic Myrtle showed no sign of interest which was a pity because I had a host of relevant facts in my head whose conventional point of view nonetheless provides a welcome contrast to the picaresue uality of the other narratorsSection by section the brief vignettes offered by Bainbridge are vivid in themselves but I fail to see how they form a coherent whole unless to open a window on a time when exceptionally both social and gender roles could become remarkably fluid But when I think how much cogently Emma Donoghue handles a similar subject in books like Slammerkin Frog Music or her short story collection Astray I have to say that Bainbridge does not uite compare And yet I engaged with a boy with a pimple at the corner of his mouth He was clumsy with terror flicking at me with his bayonet as though warding off bees He shoulted something in a foreign tongue and I said I was sorry but I didn't understand I wanted to spare him but he caught me a slash on my brow which got me cross and I jabbed him in the throat He fell away gurgling his reproach Passages like the above and they are legion make me realize that my own title is misleading also It is not that Bainbridge's individual images are blurred—they are replete with unexpected and precisely rendered detail—but that the exhibition that contains them lacks focus as a whole I found this to be true also of her posthumous novel The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress but I put that down to her inability to supervise the final version However I now gather that the vignette approach and almost willful refusal to labor a point are characteristic of her work at large So read this for the detail read it for its two magnificently self inventing lower class narrators read it for the history—but know that any overall continuity will be up to you to infer Tattered Wings record the series of strange events bad judgments good intentions and ill luck that shape the destiny of Master Georgie There is Myrtle a foundling The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol 14 rescued by an accident of fate that secures her an ambiguous position in the Hardy household There is Pompey Jones a Trailer Park Stories resourceful street boy then. Photos Out of Focus Roger Fenton's van in the CrimeaInstead of chapters the late Dame Beryl Bainbridge's historical novel is divided into Plates with titles such as Girl in the Presence of Death 1846 and Funeral Procession Shadowed by Beatrice October 1854 Each of the six sections includes the taking of a posed photograph either by or including one or of the characters in the brief novel As the last four sections take place during or in the Parasite run up to the Crimean War it is probable that Bainbridge was thinking of the pioneering war photographer Roger Fenton; one of the main characters in the book works as assistant to some famous photographer who is never named He appears however to take the last group photograph Smile Boys Smile dated November 1854 You can easily imagine it a small group of weary soldiers some seated some standing including a civilian and a young woman in military dress Separately the motifs occur everywhere in Fenton's photographs though I cannot find any one example that combines them All the same the best explanation I can offer for this strange and Fifteen Weekends (The Weekends Series, rather disjointed novel is that Dame Beryl was starting from such an image Tears from Iron real and imagined and working backwards to tell its story Soldiers in the Crimean WarBainbridge's title is misleading The young Liverpool surgeon George Hardy known by his former housemaid and devoted admirer as Master Georgie is indeed the continuing thread linking all six sections but he is not the most interesting figure in any of them Instead his story is told by three alternating narrators One is Myrtle the adopted foundling who in a story Heimat rather like Jacueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs is given an education and goes to the Crimea posing as George's sister The second is Pompey Jones a former street urchin and sideshow performer who takes up photography and goes out as assistant to the great photographer Both Myrtle and Pompey become at one time or another George's lovers The third narrator is Dr Potter George's brother in law a Crooked Cucumber rather stuffy academic Myrtle showed no sign of interest which was a pity because I had a host of Waiting in the Wings relevant facts in my head whose conventional point of view nonetheless provides a welcome contrast to the picaresue uality of the other narratorsSection by section the brief vignettes offered by Bainbridge are vivid in themselves but I fail to see how they form a coherent whole unless to open a window on a time when exceptionally both social and gender A Life On Film roles could become To Vegas and Back remarkably fluid But when I think how much cogently Emma Donoghue handles a similar subject in books like Slammerkin Frog Music or her short story collection Astray I have to say that Bainbridge does not uite compare And yet I engaged with a boy with a pimple at the corner of his mouth He was clumsy with terror flicking at me with his bayonet as though warding off bees He shoulted something in a foreign tongue and I said I was sorry but I didn't understand I wanted to spare him but he caught me a slash on my brow which got me cross and I jabbed him in the throat He fell away gurgling his How to Read Foucaults Discipline and Punish reproach Passages like the above and they are legion make me Catch a Falling Star realize that my own title is misleading also It is not that Bainbridge's individual images are blurred—they are நெடுங்குருதி [Nedum Kuruthi] replete with unexpected and precisely Lets Put on a Show! (Full House: Sisters, rendered detail—but that the exhibition that contains them lacks focus as a whole I found this to be true also of her posthumous novel The Girl in the Polka Dot Dress but I put that down to her inability to supervise the final version However I now gather that the vignette approach and almost willful The Rockabye Contract (Joe Gall refusal to labor a point are characteristic of her work at large So Human Rights Tectonics read this for the detail Blue Angel Confessions read it for its two magnificently self inventing lower class narrators The Lean Marketplace: a Practical Guide to Building a Successful Online Marketplace Business read it for the history—but know that any overall continuity will be up to you to infer

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