In the illustrious history of the theatrical Fishers, there are two Georges. One is a peculiar but endearing 11-year-old, raised in the seedy world of ’70s boarding houses and backstages, now packed off to school for the first time; the other a garrulous ventriloquist’s dummy who belonged to George’s grandfather, a favorite traveling act of the British troops in World War II. The two Georges know nothing of each other—until events conspire to unite them in a search to uncover the family's deepest secrets.
Weaving the boy’s tale and the puppet’s “memoirs,” by George unveils the fascinating Fisher family—its weak men, its dominant women, its disgruntled boys, and its shocking and dramatic secrets. At once bitingly funny and exquisitely tender, Stace's novel is the unforgettable journey of two young boys separated by years but driven by the same desires: to find a voice, and to be loved.
Praise for ‘by George’
“One of those rare works of fiction with an essential triple helix—it’s funny, it’s clever, and it’s perfectly woven together with story.”
“A hilarious, loving and strange novel. How does a ventriloquist dummy become a hero? How does any human become a hero? How can I learn to write as well as Wesley Stace? Buy this novel now.”
“An astonishing writer.”
“A rich Dickensian tale … The reader is left both happy and moved.”
“What is glorious about this novel is that, along with a nice plot involving absconding fathers and hidden family connections, it examines elusive questions about the nature of the artistic voice…[Wesley Stace is] a skillful author on his way to becoming a very fine one. by George is an entertaining and daring work in which wooden dolls can bleed and break hearts. This is not a novel that will willingly go back in the box.”
“Stace has a startling imaginative talent and an anarchic sense of humour, but, crucially, he has an ability to bind good ideas to an absorbing plot.”
“Compelling… Nonchalantly mixes genres, voices and prose styles from several centuries. Stace capably keeps the main lines of action clear as he moves between the first and second halves of the 20th century. Eclecticism seems to suit this author… [and there is a] vibrancy of every scene involving the various theatrical pursuits of George’s family… The author’s vivid set pieces of life on the stage are … convincing and enjoyable.”
“Stace amasses enough gently ironic humor, emotion and insight to carry his voices beautifully.”
“Stace … has a real talent for re-creating a variety of settings, from battlefields to boarding houses to the backstages of vaudeville. This novel is an original, and it ends with a most satisfying revelation.”
“More than a high-flown yarn; it is also a well-nigh effortless portrait of alienation and sublimated affecrtion … brimming with imagination.”
“An absorbing tale with an original narrative twist.”