Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018, Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2018

Master Georgie – Beryl Bainbridge #20BooksofSummer

Historical Fiction
3*s

One of the things I love most about Beryl Bainbridge’s writing is that each is unique, not just in terms of premise but there are different places and time periods to explore and of course a fresh set of characters to admire or revile, or perhaps feel indifference towards.

Master Georgie is set around the time Crimea War and has three voices to tell its tale as well as a photograph to illustrate each of the six sections it is divided into. Two of these are set in Liverpool, 1846 and 1850 whereas the remainder is set in 1854 during the war.

First up we meet the formerly impoverished orphan Myrtle who poses next to the corpse of George Hardy’s father. She was taken into the family as a foundling but she is infatuated with George, and so she runs his errands, clears up his messes and generally dotes on him with a fondness that verges on obsession.

We then meet Pompey Jones in 1850 by which time George Hardy is a surgeon and a keen photographer. Pompey Jones is his assistant but their relationship is far from straightforward with Pompey harbouring resentment towards Georgie. It is therefore through Pompey’s narrative that we see a far less wholesome side to Georgie than that we saw through Myrtle’s. Myrtle has been sent away to school to become a lady but her obsessive love for Georgie has not waned despite the fact the latter now has a wife.

Finally we meet Dr Potter, Georgie’s brother-in-law and the Crimea war is the backdrop to the remainder of the story. I know little about this war but I certainly got the feeling it was an authentic portrayal allowing us to see yet more facets of Georgie’s character.

This is a clever book and one that I would say would benefit from a re-read if only time would allow. Not because it is exceptionally complicated but in my desire to read the entire story, I am sure I missed some of the finer points made along the way. There are many themes most notably the photography which adds a compelling dimension to the story-telling. On the larger scale this is a story about a family and a fairly sympathetic portrayal of one man at its heart. There are indiscretions, some shocking events but overall despite a smidge of satire, it is a pleasant read, not designed to shock, but to tell a realistic story. I have to admit this reader couldn’t help but recognise threads of other works of literature set in similar times and circumstances, not that this isn’t an original tale but more that the understanding of the story Beryl Bainbridge seeks to portray is wider than this fairly slim novel can encompass.

As I alluded to earlier in this review – the journey and the devices used to illustrate it, were exceptionally well-written and enjoyable to read but if I am honest, I didn’t really feel that I connected with any of the emotions that I suspect I was intended to. Maybe on a second read, this element would come to the fore…

Master Georgie was my seventh read in my 20 Books for Summer 2018 Challenge and an interesting exploration of a different time and age.

First Published UK: 1998
Publisher: Abacus
No of Pages:224
Genre: Historical Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018

20 Books of Summer 2018! #20booksofsummer


Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2018 and running until 3 September 2018, and once again I’ve decided to join her. My aim this year is to read and review all twenty books in the allotted time span!!

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from a total of 109 although my choices for The Classics Club were discounted for this challenge.

Because I know that facts in one book tend to lead me to seek out other books in my tangential reading style, I’ve decided to start with a spread of genres and authors for the first ten books – a book set at sea and one in a drought, the life of a servant jostles with the details of a life of one of Elizabeth II’s ancestors and of course a bit of solid crime fiction has snuck its way in too.

Book lovers will completely understand the hours I have spent honing my choices which have been further complicated to include some faithful friends that are to accompany me on holiday.

Rest assured the second set of ten will be posted when these are all finished, which should be in mid-July, if I’m on schedule!

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

American Heiress by Jeffrey Toobin

Mrs Woolf and the Servants by Alison Light

Seven Days in May by Kim Izzo

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Sanctum by Denise Mina 

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

Child’s Play by Reginald Hill

Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge

The Dry by Jane Harper

Wedlock by Wendy Moore

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge! Should be easy eh?

As in the previous two years there will be a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted, and of course eventually listing the entire twenty books.

Top of my holiday reads is Reginald Hill, I always read one of his books on holiday as does Beryl Bainbridge, so they were always going to join me. If it’s too hot I will open a copy of Raven Black to transport me to Shetland but I’m not sure my conscience will allow me to read about the life of servants while sipping cocktails!

I recently posted a tag My Name in TBR Books and was encouraged to read Life After Life so that one will also be joining me.

So what do you think of my choices? Where would you start?

I’ve enjoyed looking at everyone else’s choices so far and after all having read the full list of 20, I will need replacements.