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An interesting historical novel which won loads of prizes and accolades and is a brief and straightforward read Bainbridge uses the medium of photography to hang the novel on six photographic plates The first two plates are set in Liverpool in 1846 and 1850 and the rest in 1854 in the Crimea.The Master Georgie of the title is George Hardy, a surgeon and amateur photographer His story is told alternately by three other characters Myrtle is a foundling brought up by the Hardy s after being found by George The exact circumstances are unclear, but Myrtle idolises George By 1854, when Myrtle is 20, they have a sexual relationship, despite George s marriage Dr Potter is married to George s sister Beatrice and is a Geologist he is verbose and a little pompous, but does notice things The last narrator is Pompey Jones initially a street urchin who crosses George s path a number of times and by 1854 he is a photographer s assistant in the Crimea He is straight out of Dickens, overcoming his humble beginnings George is a complex character who is attracted to women and men and has the associated Victorian guilt in large amounts Both Pompey and Myrtle have been on the receiving end of his attentions The different narrative voices don t disrupt the flow and it is interesting to have the change of perspective on a regular basis There are some points made by the author At the beginning of the novel it seems that fate and destiny are in some degree under the control of those with some power and privilege By the end with the horror and carnage of the Crimean war it is clear events are completely random The satirical aspect is also clear Tennyson glorified aspects of the campaign, remember the poem The Charge of the Light Brigade there is no glorification here as we see what surrounds the occupation of surgeon There is also a caricature of the British abroad with wander around the Crimean peninsula as though it was a Sunday School outing, and, of course the sheer stupidity of war is there for all to see There is also a blurring of memory When George is drunk and makes a pass at Pompey Jones, early in the book, their later recollections are very different and Bainbridge makes the point that we all construct our own past history This is a deceptive novel which seems quite simple, but has a number twists and turns and it could easily be managed on a wet afternoon 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 Jacqueline 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 picaresque quality of the other narrators.Section 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 likeSlammerkin, Frog Music, or her short story collection Astray, I have to say that Bainbridge does not quite 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 novelThe 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. 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 winners.This 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 geologist.The 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. Perhaps chance and destiny are interdependent, in that the latter cannot be fulfilled without the casual intervention of the former A craggy rock placed at a distance from the water will never be worn smoothThis book is a special Booker Prize winner winning the Best Of Beryl Prize in 2011 where the public was asked to choose between the five shortlisted books of the Booker Bridesmaid.A detailed plot guide can be found here a succinct introduction to the characters is contained in the following musings by the geologist Dr Potter, one of our three point of view narrators, when he muses on the events that have thrown the other two point of view characters the foundling turned favourite turned lover and surrogate mother Myrtle, and the street performer turned photographer s assistant turned lover Pompey Jones, in orbit around the eponymous surgeon and amateur photographer George HardyMyrtle is an interesting subject in regard to the question as to whether fate or chance holds the upper hand The ifs are numerous If Beartrice had not shown an affection for her, would she not have vanished into the orphanage What if Pompey Jones s unfortunate arrangement of the tiger s head had not ended Annie s hope of motherhood If old Mrs Hardy had woken that morning in a cheerful mood, would Myrtle have been required to follow George down to the town Then there is the matter of his returning to Blackberty Lane by a different route than was usual If the woman s screams had echoed unheard in another street, what thenAnd this passage also introduced one of the key themes of the book as covered in my opening quote This is a book which relies on extreme chance and co incidence but not as a plot device but as a way of examining the role of chance and coincidence when set alongside fate destiny Reading this work I could not help seeing it as a form of literary antecedent of the work of Kate Atkinson whose early Jackson Brodie detective novels relied heavily perhaps too heavily on coincidence as an explicitly acknowledged plot device, but who then went on to examine this theme meta fictionally in books like Life After Life.I also wondered about the influence of this book on Sarah Perry s The Essex Serpent in the Victorian setting the fascination with geology and the challenge of the work of Charles Lyell to previously religiously held conceptions and certainties but also in the way in which all the characters seem drawn to another character, an attraction including a sexual one from both sexes that does not convey itself to the reader with George hear being an even distant figure than Cora Photography is another clear theme the Crimean War was the first to be widely photographed and Bainbridge chooses to have three photographers in the book George Pompey and an unnamed war photographer and to have the six chapters named after and written around six photographic plates which are dated and described but not shown This idea captures the nature of the book built effectively around six set pieces Interestingly whereas these chapters feature some seemingly memorable scenes for example the attempts to cover up the nature of Mr Hardy s death an operation to remove the cataracts of an ape a dramatic fight in a theater based on a deceived sense of honour fire eater at concert amidst squalor and disease a man caught in a blast who ends with a missing ear but regained memory some of these scenes actually fade from the memory, a little like the regrettable tendency of George s photographs to fade to black after being taken Instead what lingers in the memory is our growing understanding of the complex dynamics between the characters and importantly the themes of the book.Bainbridge I think is also consciously exploring two related themes here via her photographic plate device Firstly photography as a medium for capturing reality and contrasting it both implicitly and explicitly with literature and its ability to capture thought and motivation as well as imageThere s something of black magic in the photographer s art, in that he stops time I don t know that I think much of the camera It appears to hold reality hostage and yet fails to snap thoughts in the head The lens is powerless to catch the interior turmoil boiling within the skullAnd secondly and widely, the idea of differing perceptions of history, and of myth As we switch between the three point of view characters we gradually become aware of differences in their interpretations of past eventsI reckon memory is selective I tried to get Potter to discuss what it meant when events were recollected differently He said he wasn t in the mood and had enough lapses of his own without fretting over other people sAs an example, late on Myrtle realises 8 years later that her first glance of Pompey, as an unknown Duck boy carrying out an unheralded Christian act was actually a failed street scam Photography itself exposed the true horrors of war and shattered some of its mythical nature And we also have Dr Potter who increasingly in his horror at the reality of war turns literally to history and myth taking refuge in allusions to classical history and literature, rather it has to be said to the disdain of our lower class narrators Myrtle and Pompeyhis frequent quotations first spouted in a dead language and then laboriously translated, become wearisomeIn the same way the concept of war as celebrated in nauseating displays of patriotic fervor by politicians and generals in London and in those who are influenced by them in Istanbul, in Potter s own wordsthose buffoons who, by reasons of solely of wealth and title, control both government and armydiffers from the horrific reality experienced by working class soldiers, including at the end Pompey.Overall this is an excellent book a deserved winner of the Best of Beryl Booker albeit one which should have rendered that competition unnecessary by defeating Amsterdam. Read July 2010Master Georgie in one tweet sized chunk Short and apparently simple, Master Georgie is an enjoyable snapshot of lives and the Crimean War.It 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 order.And yet I use the phrase apparent simplicity advisedly, for the simplicity of style masks a cunningly composed narrative which questions 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 characters.When 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 plate.The 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 questions 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 enquires as to why Myrtle often looks sad It s the way I am on the outside , she replies Inside, I assure you I m quite happy This seems to sum up Master Georgie nicely.There 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 J.G 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 Myrtle.The satire is not biting though, and surrounding it is a tender portrayal of life, war and the consequences of our actions Like the best war books, one comes away feeling that it was all so bloody pointless.Yet none of this is to say that Master Georgie is an easy book It is slippery, never quite giving the reader what one wants or expects The drama is quiet, 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 months.7 out of 10 Right this is Beryl Bainbridge it was shortlisted for the Booker Prize it is obviously a brilliant work of literature as judged by the Literaty There is obviously a great deal of clever literary mechanisms being used here therefore how dare I not give this the most possible amount of marks that Goodreads allows But is it a good read for the casual reader No, I m afraid it wasn t I found the plot far too fragmented it required great leaps of imagination or diligent back checking to even make half the connections that the book demanded we make The characters were sketchy again, far too much was left to the imagination or were the characters simply, enigmatically, shallow or even translucent and was there a clue in the last stanza trying to tell us that we re all just shadows on each others individual lives So why write a book or a novella series of connected short stories which gives us the charcoal outline of a novel but doesn t even give us the numbers with which to colour any page in, let alone the coloured crayons to do so I m sure that this is an excellent book to study academically it ticks the boxes on so many literary mechanisms, and on reading it a fourth or fifth time, some of the plot will actually begin to make some sense, and maybe one or two of the characters might appear to have some sort of substantive effect on the way we perceive the world But I don t read, in general, as an academic exercise I read to be entertained, educated and to be challenged I m afraid this book did none of these things to me, therefore to pretend it did would be disingenuous of me For the casual reader like me, this was just pretentious twaddle, I m afraid. George Hardy, rather Master George is an obsessed medical practitioner, a surgeon and an ardent photographer too Shortly after his father s untimely death, the whereabouts of which are to be kept a secret from the other members of his family, a choleric proliferation and the waging war against Russia sets Master George on a journey to offer his services to his countrymen, to the sufferers of war Could he have possibly known that he was to turn into one, a sufferer and likewise, the ones around him Myrtle is an orphaned girl, taken into the Hardy family, raised to be a lady, to all George s adoptive sister, but that s possibly an introduction for the world For her, she d rather be Georgie s skin, which can be cut, wounded, torn, sutured, and repaired but remains till the very end, before it withers, fades So, convoyed by Myrtle the infatuated, Dr.Potter the geologist brother in law, a caravan of relatives and of course Pompey Jones, the assistant, George walks into the labyrinthine decay of the war.Beryl Bainbridge fascinates us with the numbness of war the dead are luckier than the unfortunate living Every brush stroke only deepens and darkens the colour, a singular one, of red, a bloody one at that, the only miscellany presented in its shades And as one inebriates in the gory visuals, the putrid miasma of decay suffocates you but there is nothing to cover your nose, your eyes with, not even your willingness a gun is meant to kill and so it will a soldier is meant to, made to kill and so he will a war is meant to destroy, burn, annihilate and so it does No dissuasion can keep a moth from the light no enticing would keep Master George away from the war Cut, cut, cut, tear, tear, tear, sawing limbs is the norm of the day stripping a dead body of its soiled clothes to adorn a living is no dread Nonchalance isn t an option Like Dr Potter who s losing it with all the delusions and hallucinations, one would agree that to be insensitive to the calamities of war is the only sensible thing to do how would one breathe otherwise To be insane is the only way to be sane.In this decadence, in this coldness, the author manages to light up emotions and allure the reader with their dancing shadows There aren t any secret lives, or any secret emotions, almost everything is blatantly real, only trampled on by the squalor of war Pompey Jones likes Myrtle, he believes the attraction to come from the nasty cavern of poverty and squalor that they once belonged to Myrtle is hopeless when it s about George but he, the curer, is only a curer of the surface, the body the soul isn t a surgeon s lookout Can love possibly surface in such abominable conditions Is it still important to know if you re loved when a cover from the next bullet or the next chance for a meal are the only things you should really care forI stood , resentment wriggling like a worm within my breast It had been my conceit that it was enough to give love, that to receive it would have altered the nature of my obsession When passion is mutual, there is always the danger of the fire burning to ashes Rather than lose love it was better to not have known itMyrtleBainbridge s eloquent portrayal scratches beyond the surface and delves deep the emotions infused in the characters are real and hence felt Whether you shed a tear for the dead or not, the eyes will be in vain for the living, the living dead The book and its gory descriptions reminded me of the movie The Pianist I ve read Beryl Bainbridge before, Every man for himself but this one has struck a chord, an effective one Having three narrators that speak in the same voice was such a mood killer. {Free Pdf} ó Master Georgie ⚞ 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 Is 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 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 This is my second Beryl Bainbridge novel in as many months and in my opinion a successful one The novel is narrated by three separate voices who all have some relation to the titular Master Georgie whose inner voice we never hear Myrtle is his adoring, one could say obsessively so, adopted sister found in poverty and given a leg up in life, Pompey Jones another one who lives in poverty and makes his own way up through his interaction with George, and Dr Potter who marries George s sister The story begins with a secret that all three share with George and secrets are added as their lives progress Most of the novel is set as Myrtle, George and Potter, initially accompanied by family, journey along the Mediterranean to Turkey and then to the battleground of the Crimean war George is a doctor and the others are or less bystanders although Myrtle does help with some nursing Pompey Jones is there as a photographer, a passion that he shares with George and Dr Potters role is classified as observer although one has to question what the usefulness of this role ultimately is Potter s voice, however was the most successful for me, the way in which he will go off on random tangents about the history and geology of the places they visit while all the way being insightful as to the relations between George and the other two narrators, keeping secrets close to his chest and eventually pining over and imagining he sees his beloved wife as life gets harder Pompey Jones s voice is also distinctive and he is as honest as Myrtle is in what he wants and how he will get it Jones is still very much a man of the streets though and does what he has to survive while Myrtle is driven on by her love for Georgie it is only she that calls him this a love that eclipses all else and seems entirely emotionally unhealthy yet manages to sustain her in conditions that would drive many others mad Berly Bainbridgre effectively creates a picture of these conditions, showing the way that men were dying from sickness than fighting, the horrific injuries and lack of medical facilities, the incompetence of those supposedly leading the soldiers and the lack of communication to all I was surprised how many wives and mistresses, as well as children were allowed to accompany their soldiers but as my knowledge of this period in history is virtually nonexistent I can only assume this was true to life Her language is simple and very easy to read and I found myself engrossed in this tale of how three people are connected to one and how he changed the lives of all three.Some favorite lines Standing there, listening to the melancholy gurglings of roof top pigeons, I dwelt with pleasure on the unstable and transitory nature of life, seeing I was fortunate enough to be alive Man himself is so buffeted by shifts of thought and mood, not knowing from one day to the next what he truly feels, that a shifting earth is well nigh the last straw Dr Potter holds that speech was invented to conceal thought, but I kept that to myself Georgie s not one for talking, at least, not to me Nor would I wish to be his equal, for then I might find him wanting Perhaps chance and destiny are interdependent, in that the intervention of the latter cannot be fulfilled without the casual intervention of the former A craggy rock placed at a distance from water will never be worn smooth.