Read An Honourable Man by Gillian Slovo Online


It is 1884. In Khartoum, General Gordon stands on the roof of his fortress as the city is besieged. He has vowed to fight the Mahdi to the death. At his side is the boy he rescued from the English dockyard slums - his reluctant last ally. Approaching with the Camel Corps is a young doctor who has joined the expedition to rescue Gordon....

Title : An Honourable Man
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781844086641
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

An Honourable Man Reviews

  • Her Royal Orangeness
    2019-06-27 08:45

    One word to describe how I felt about this book: frustrated. First, I knew nothing about the historical events on which this is based, and I didn't feel the author made any of it clear. There was some kind of conflict between Egypt and Sudan, so a British general went there to fix things but he made a holy mess of everything. The book begins in 1884 when Britain sends more military to rescue him and his troops. The back story and political complications were a confusing muddle to me.Second, the characters were totally unlikable. John Clarke, a young doctor who decides to go with the troops to the Sudan, comes across as superior and condescending. The general is stark raving mad with a God complex. John’s wife Mary is weak and needy and insecure, and becomes an opiate addict to deal with her loneliness. And then there’s the manipulative power-hungry journalist who’s campaigning for the general. Third, the book reads like a rough draft. I don’t think an editor even glanced at the manuscript. Sentences like, “He was talking as if Will was a fellow general Will knew that he was really talking to himself.” (Wha?) and “The train juddered and champagne frothed out, some of it making it into the glass.” (The construction of that sentence implies that the champagne frothed out of the train.) It’s just quite dreadful.I’ll use that clichéd review sentence: I really wanted to like this book. The author was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2004 for “Ice Road.” I haven’t read that book, but I assumed that the prize nomination was indicative of her writing talent. And the events on which this story is based are wonderful material for a novel. But all in all, I really did not like this book and I only made it to the last page by sheer determination.

  • Keith Currie
    2019-07-16 10:30

    If when you read the final page and for the last time close the book, if then you feel bereft, an undeniable sense of loss, then you know that the novel has been a winner. So it was for me with Gillian Slovo's latest: part historical novel, part imperial adventure story, part social history of the Victorian woman and class system - an exciting and intelligent story from beginning to end.Story? Three stories in fact. First there is General Gordon in the final days of the defence of Khartoum. With him is his reluctant servant, the rescued urchin boy, Will. Then there is Doctor John Clarke who strives to act for king, country and his fellow man as a volunteer medic accompanying Wolseley's relief force by camel. With him is the calm, experienced army man, Tom, who has a profound sense of duty and a low opinion of the officer class to which John belongs. Finally there is John's wife, Mary, highly strung and dependent on her absent husband, dependent also on laudanum, an addiction which brings her into the orbit of the alcoholic brothel mistress, Rebecca.There is a theme of abandonment running through all three tales, of betrayal, of how the ideals of the upper classes can impact terribly upon the lower orders. There is the potential of tragedy and in some cases, its actuality, but Slovo keeps all options open and allows the plot to develop and conclude in some surprising ways.

  • Alumine Andrew
    2019-07-18 10:46

    I found this book recommended by someone so I downloaded it onto my Kindle for something to read while I traveled.Unfortunately it wasn't as engaging as I would have liked. The story switches between three protagonists and their respective locations. A London doctor, John, who volunteers for the Cramer Corps in the British Army. His wife who stays behind and finds herself with nothing much to do. And finally General Charles Gordon who was under siege in Khartoum.John rediscovered himself as he works with the wounded and gets into more and more dangerous situations. He realised his London life has become monotonous and predictable. He realises his marriage has lost its passion and priority in his life. His wife is caught up in the politics of the war and the stress of being on her own. She turns to laudanum for comfort and is soon heavily addicted. She then befriends a local prostitute to supply her.Gordon is delusional and awaits his rescue mission with dwindling hope.There is resolution at the end of the book for all three characters but I felt it was tedious getting there.

  • Mary Hamer
    2019-06-28 08:33

    I loved Gillian Slovo's novel, Red Dust and had enormous admiration for the imaginative power of her novel Ice Road. In An Honourable Man she took on an unusual challenge, the story of General Gordon’s last stand at Khartoum in the Sudan, where he was cut down at the end of a yearlong siege. Not much is going to happen, before that brutal end. It’s all about threat and menace that doesn’t go away. She is inventive, playing back and forth between scenes in London and Africa, creating characters, a husband and wife, a lost child to animate the bleak main story and offer a kind of counter-point. But try as I might I never quite believed in the wife’s laudanum addiction nor the good works she got involved in. It all felt sketchy, thrown together imaginatively, perfunctory. The strength of the work, its appeal, lies in the powerful evocation of the landscape of the Sudan and the truly brilliant scenes of battle.

  • Arna
    2019-07-19 14:36

    I wanted to love this, after listening to an interview with the author on a Radio4 podcast. However I never really felt engaged. I don't know whether that was because I simply don't know enough about the conflict between Egypt and the Sudan which formed the context of the novel, or whether perhaps the author tried to tell too many stories - John the surgeon, Mary the wife, Betty the maid, Rebecca the drunk, Mr Stead and Mr Bartholomew, Will the steward, and the generals - any of these could have made an engaging story, but I feel that the author has tried to do too much, and ended up doing nowhere near enough.

  • Kj
    2019-07-04 07:42

    I do have some reservations about this book. Namely, that the characters seemed undeveloped and at times I struggled to feel convinced.I know I'm onto a winner when I can "turn the movie on in my head" as I read- meaning I can picture the characters and landscapes (and actually this is nothing to do with how detailed the author's descriptions are) but I have to say it just didn't happen for me with this novel. It's always interesting to learn something new as I read, but I felt that the author could have revealed to us a bit more background about Sudan.All in all it isn't really historical fiction at its best - but it was an OK bedtime read.

  • Helene Harrison
    2019-07-08 14:33

    Review - I thought there was potential in this story, but I don't think that it was carried out in the best way it could be. I don't think the story of the doctor was the best choice. It felt strange to be jumping between England and the Sudan. Perhaps focusing on General Gordon or on Will would have been more effective. I couldn't get into it, and didn't finish it.Genre? - Historical / DramaCharacters? - General Charles Gordon / John Clarke / Mary Clarke / Betty / WillSetting? - Khartoum (Sudan) & London (England)Series? - N/ARecommend? – MaybeRating - 10/20

  • Mirte
    2019-06-20 07:28

    Yeah. Post-colonialism is not my thing. So reading a novel on the taking of Khartoum is not something I'd do if not for a course I'm taking on life writing. Apart from the story, which was acceptable, if not really exciting, there were quite a lot of mistakes in my edition - spelling, grammer, sentence construction. And that's just a no-go, always. The events described should be really interesting, but I did not really sympathise with the characters, so that didn't really help me getting along with the story. It was a quick read, though.

  • Joy
    2019-07-20 07:29

    The historical events in this book were confusing to me, I didnt really know much about the conflict that the book was centred on before I read the book and at the end I was none the wiser.The army officer John CLarke who was sent to Khartoum seemed a bit of a bumbling idiot to me and his neglect of his wife's addiction seemed unkind and dangerous. I didn't like any of the characters I 'met' in this story.

  • Heather
    2019-07-04 14:32

    I began hating this book. I was bored, I didn't enjoy the writing style, the characters were uninteresting as was the period of time it was set in. Then, shortly before I reached halfway I began to really enjoy the novel. Each character blossomed, every story unique and interesting from Mary'a struggle as an opium addict to little Will & Frankie ( I was utterly devastated when I thought Gordon had offed the two of them out of mercy). A well written, interesting book.

  • Donald Reid
    2019-07-21 08:35

    I persisted doggedly with this book, finding it dull until the final chapters which captured brilliantly the folly and courage of Gordon and the other characters in their different heroic struggles, worked out against the (here rather opaque) backdrop of imperial hubris, another foreign war. I'd like to have known more about the Mahdi though there were hints of the reasons for his successful mobilisation of the Sudanese people against their Anglo-Egyptian overlords.

  • David
    2019-06-25 12:33

    A straightforward historical novel offering a dramatic retelling of Wolesley's expedition of 1884/5 to rescue General Gordon, besieged at Khartoum. Eminently readable and page-turning though it is, I had expected something more layered and nuanced from Slovo (like her Orange-shortlisted 'Ice Road'). It was interesting to read about an event in history I knew little about, but I don't feel the novel had a great deal to say beyond that. Enjoyable, but forgettable.

  • Liesl Louw-Vaudran
    2019-06-27 13:24

    An interesting account of the fall of Khartoum and the (failed) attempt to rescue general 'China' Gordon. It really is about the 'folly of empire' as the flaptext states. Some parts are really quite hilarious, even if the author might not have intended them to be. Imagine the arrogance of the British trying to conquer the Sudan!

  • Lyn
    2019-07-14 15:37

    Interesting novel about General Gordon's last days in Khartoum. I enjoyed getting some insight into that, and the military campaign that was launched to rescue him, told through the eyes of a doctor. However I found the third strand of the story, set in London with the doctor's wife, less interesting and felt it could well have been omitted!

  • Roos
    2019-07-09 08:34

    An enjoyable read. It was easy to become invested in the characters because of the way Slovo portrayed them. Nevertheless, she might have created a text too obviously artificial to still add something to the historical tradition it concerns itself with. The story seems to try to hard to make certain connections that aren't fully realistic.

  • Veronica
    2019-06-28 07:34

    A some what dull book. The novel has two settings: Khartoum in which the main character Dr. John Clarke is struggling with thirst, the dessert and the situation he finds himself in with the Camel Corps (1884) and this story is the more interesting. The other location is London where Mary Clarke is dealing with loneliness and her addiction to laudanum and this is a truly boring story.

  • Ann Tonks
    2019-07-03 10:34

    I wanted to enjoy this because I've liked Ms Slovo's previous work. Each element of the story had it's own fascination: Gordon in Khartoum; the husband in the army; the wife drugged in London. But somehow, each of the characters were so flawed that one didn't want to spend time with them.

  • Bianca
    2019-07-21 12:37

    Maybe they should run a spelling and punctuation check before they publish.I found the narrative rather forced and artificial, the coincidences and dramatic irony were laid on rather too thickly. Not my kind of novel.

  • Jenny
    2019-07-01 10:28

    I gave up on this. very dreary and not worth my time. formulaic and unengaging. the device of splitting the narration between the wife left at home and the husband away in the war just didn't work.

  • Jose Carrascosa
    2019-07-02 10:41

    Super unengaging. Do not waste your time.

  • Ruth
    2019-06-28 08:41

    I didn't finish this book - got impatient with it and returned it to the library only half read.

  • Amanda
    2019-07-06 11:35

    Folly of sending soldiers into the desert. Reminded me of Peter Cook's quote - 'a futile gesture is needed at this point'. Fascinating but not strictly historically accurate - why not?

  • Bobbie Darbyshire
    2019-06-30 14:38

    Oh dear. I like Gillian Slovo, and she chooses interesting subjects to write about, but I found this strung out, pedestrian, uninvolving.

  • Madeleine Douglas
    2019-06-25 07:36

    An interesting author, would like to read more of hers. Vaguely aware of this period in our history but I didn't know much more than that so a fascinating view of General Gordon