Monday, 1 March 2010
Master Georgie by Beryl Bainbridge
DATE READ: February 2010
NOTES: George Hardy, surgeon and photographer, travels from 19th century Liverpool to the Bosphorus at the start of the Crimean War. Chapters are narrated by different characters. These are Myrtle (his adoptive sister taken in as an orphan), Pompey Jones (a former street urchin turned photographer’s assistant and sometime fire-eater) and Doctor Potter (his geologist friend).
Beryl Bainbridge writes superbly and both time and place are brilliantly captured. We are not spared the horrors of war but her approach is subtle. The disastrous charge of the Light Brigade is conveyed by the description of the many riderless horses appearing in their camp.
She cleverly uses the new technology of photography to help with the structure of the book and each chapter title describes a photographic scene – like a series of wonderful tableaux.
I was however less convinced by some of the characterisations. Georgie never really came alive for me and I remained unconvinced as to why Myrtle and Pompey should have been so devoted to him.