©2005 Pat Barker; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
I loved the first in this series. The second in the series left a lot to be desired. The third and final, having been raved about and won awards, was highly anticipated. Sadly a disappointment.
The book feels like a number of random remembrances by the central characters. They join up now and then, but basically their lives and stories are independent. The story line, and the characters, seem to lack emotion and substance, ambling from one scene to the next.
I'm following, but it's an apathetic journey.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I have read the other two books in the trilogy and now have completed book three. The book won the 1995 Man Booker prize and many other prizes. The series is about the physical and mental trauma on the British soldiers from World War One. I have spent the past 10 years studying World War One, reading all I can find on the subject. This series is a novel but dramatically tells of the carnage the War had on the men. I think I liked the first book the best in this trilogy.
The historical fiction had two real poets in the story Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, as well as the author Robert Graves. The psychiatrist Dr. Rivers was also a real person not fictional. By the second year of the War the unprecedented carnage was so great the British soldier’s felt no one could find the words to explain it anymore. There grew a divide between available language and actual experiences. In spite of or because of it countless letters, poems, and diaries were written by the soldiers accordingly it became known as a prodigiously literary war.
Barker, in her novel wrote a section that really hit home with me. “Lt. Billy Prior sits listening to the sounds of pens scratching and pages turning---at least two would-be poets in the hut alone---and, in his own diary, tells us why the men write: ‘I think it’s a way of claiming immunity. First person’s narrators can’t die’.”
In the first two books Lt. Prior and the poets are under treatment by Dr. Rivers for mental problems related to the War. In this book they are back fighting in the War. The title of this book speaks to the ghost both seen and unseen, in all of us. Barker has created a tale of the effects of WWI on the mental health of the British soldiers and its effect on British society. Peter Firth did an excellent job narrating the series.
This third book in Barker's trilogy has garnered the most accolades, inclduing winning the Booker Prize. However, I still think that "Regeneration" is the best of the three.
Alongside The Guns of August this trilogy is utterly remarkable in its power to convey the humanity and inhumanity that is modern warfare. The brusque comparison to the so called primitive head-hunting culture with its ritualized but contained conflicts is especially thought provoking
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
While this is the book in the Regeneration trilogy that won Barker the awards, I think it is the weakest...but definitely worth reading if you have read the earlier two (Regeneration and The Eye in the Door).
"An amazing finish to this trilogy"
A brilliant look at the effects of that terrible war on all that participated. Wonderful detail and characters.
I recommend the whole 3 books. They are very moving. I listened to the book now twice.
"Vivid, Memorable, Moving"
The evocation of the lives of historical figures, combined with credible fictional characters is vivid, intelligent and moving. Their struggle to endure the unendurable, to find a way of living with the things they have seen, the decisions they have made and the losses they have suffered is captured deftly, without melodrama or sentimentality. The stoic character of Fisher, his use of Freud and his experiences as an anthropologist are truly memorable, even in the presence of the more romantic figures of the young poets, although they too remain in the mind for a long time.
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