Read The Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker Online


The Regeneration Trilogy is Pat Barker's sweeping masterpiece of British historical fiction. 1917, Scotland. At Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland, army psychiatrist William Rivers treats shell-shocked soldiers before sending them back to the front. In his care are poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and Billy Prior, who is only able to communicate by means of peThe Regeneration Trilogy is Pat Barker's sweeping masterpiece of British historical fiction. 1917, Scotland. At Craiglockhart War Hospital in Scotland, army psychiatrist William Rivers treats shell-shocked soldiers before sending them back to the front. In his care are poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and Billy Prior, who is only able to communicate by means of pencil and paper. . .Regeneration, The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road follow the stories of these men until the last months of the war. Widely acclaimed and admired, Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy paints with moving detail the far-reaching consequences of a conflict which decimated a generation.'Harrowing, original, delicate and unforgettable' Independent'A new vision of what the First World War did to human beings, male and female, soldiers and civilians. Constantly surprising and formally superb' A. S. Byatt, Daily Telegraph'One of the few real masterpieces of late twentieth-century British fiction' Jonathan Coe...

Title : The Regeneration Trilogy
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780241969144
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 912 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Regeneration Trilogy Reviews

  • Warwick
    2019-03-14 01:16

    The novelists who wrote immediately after the war (or even during it) – Barbusse, Remarque, Manning, even Hemingway – were concerned mostly with getting down the facts: recording the realities of modern warfare before they allowed themselves to forget, before the details became incredible. Writers of subsequent generations cannot write what they know, and they need to do something else – bring some higher assessment of how people, and society, reacted to this cataclysm overall.Doing this badly, or not even bothering, is what has frustrated me about other modern novels set around 1914–18. It was interesting coming to this one after recently reading Thomas Keneally's The Daughters of Mars, a book in which the two central characters are female and yet where there was frustratingly little examination of how the First World War affected men and women and their social and sexual interactions. The main characters in the Regeneration trilogy are all men, but one of the things I loved most about it was its constant attention to sexual politics and the radical shifts that this period saw in wider society.I had been expecting a constrained, clever-clever novel spun around the literary footnote that was the meeting between Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen in hospital in 1917. You get that, but there's a lot more here than just lit-historical geekiness. What I wasn't expecting was the delicate infusion of what you might call feminist psycho-sociology: a fascinating exploration of the ways in which men's struggle to deal with trauma is so deeply linked to issues of gender.Fear, tenderness – these emotions were so despised that they could be admitted into consciousness only at the cost of redefining what it meant to be a man.Which is one of the things that 1914–18 indeed did. Barker draws out the irony that women were suddenly forced into much more active roles during the war, while men, shipped off to ‘active’ service, in fact found themselves squatting motionless in ditches for ninety percent of the time, before being routinely slaughtered, as Owen famously put it, like cattle.The war that had promised so much in the way of ‘manly’ activity had actually delivered ‘feminine’ passivity […]. No wonder they broke down.And again:Any explanation of war neurosis must account for the fact that this apparently intensely masculine life of war and danger and hardship produced in men the same disorders that women suffered from in peace.This sexual mercuriality is exemplified in the character of Billy Prior, who emerges as a conflicted, damaged antihero in the second book of the trilogy (where Barker just about manages to keep her inclination to melodrama under control). His violent swings between, on the one hand, domestic happiness, and on the other a sort of self-hating sadistic bisexuality (he describes himself memorably after one encounter as a ‘seminal spittoon’), are set against the backdrop of London's brief ‘cult of the clitoris’ scandal.Prior's girlfriend is awesome. The last thing I expected when I picked this book up was to listen in on a group of Geordie munitionettes telling a joke about a prostitute. ‘He says, “How much is that?” I says, “7/6.” He says, “Hadaway and shite,” and when I come back he'd gone.’God knows what non-Brit readers make of all this. I am not sure where Pat Barker's from, and I'm too lazy to do even the most rudimentary research, but she nails the dialect, the intonations, the chattiness of these conversations – and from this base she builds a whole social critique into the novel. Some reviewers (I notice) have found this stratum unconvincing, but for me the attempt to examine social change is what lifts this book above its peers. Prior reflects, for instance, that the reaction working-class men have to the trenches is very different from that of the upper class officers – for him and those he knows,the Front, with its mechanization, its reduction of the individual to a cog in a machine, its blasted landscape, was not a contrast with the life they'd known at home, in Birmingham or Manchester or Glasgow or the Welsh pit villages, but a nightmarish culmination.In the third book this bird's eye view of British society zooms out even further, by means of a sustained juxtaposition with the tribal society of a group of Melanesian islanders once studied by WHR Rivers, the (historically real) doctor that has been treating Prior. This narrative technique is so audacious, so weird, that at first I didn't really know what to make of it; mostly, I'm just impressed. And I think it's the right decision. I mean if you're a writer, and you know that one of your characters was an anthropologist who studied tribes in Oceania, then I think you have to pursue this and look for parallels – but to see this in action is quite amazing, it's just so very far, at least at first glance, from the world of trench warfare that you can hardly believe Barker attempted it.Rivers is indeed the calm, still centre of this trilogy (despite some troubled waters of his own), and the way this figure has been recreated in these pages is for me the most impressive achievement of the books. Barker got the Booker Prize in '95 for The Ghost Road, the third novel; but this is a bit of a catch-up job, like giving Peter Jackson the Oscar for Return of the King when he should have won it for Fellowship. The whole trilogy is great though – psychologically astute, hugely wide-ranging, very readable, a perfect example of how writing about conflict from a century ago can still be a way of telling us things about how we think about each other, and about ourselves, today.

  • Matt
    2019-03-13 01:22

    A powerful reading experience, this is a book that one will be thinking about for a very long time. The writing is superb, the use of small, lovely details (sunlight reflecting on eyeglasses, rose petals, bubbles on the legs of a man resting in a fishpond, things seen only by starlight' etc., there are many more examples) against the backdrop of the vulgarity that was WWI, serve to make the book all the more moving. A sentence as simple as this is astounding within the context of the overall work: "Then they were moving forward, hundreds of men eerily quiet, starlit shadows barely darkening the grass. And no dogs barked." The fact that the author was born in 1943 and the first volume of the trilogy initially published in 1991 and yet captures the historical and, more importantly, human aspects of the time of WWI in such detail is astonishing. The reader would expect she had lived through the war herself. This is the kind of book, beautiful and terrifying, that one is thankful for.

  • Jason
    2019-03-03 00:02

    This trilogy is a fascinating approach to WW I, using a handful of historical figures and one or two fictional characters to get into the psychology of the young Englishman who fought in the trenches of France. Book 1, Regeneration, is the story of Siegfried Sassoon's time at Craiglockhart Castle, Scotland, where he was being treated for "shell shock" (in Sassoon's case it was speaking out publicly against the war that made him unfit for service) by preeminent psychologist Dr. Jonathan Rivers. Here he meets Wilfred Owen and develops his own antiwar philosophy in spite of Rivers and his own misgivings. Book 2, The Eye in the Door, looks at the suspicion cast upon, and ultimately the witchhunting of, pacifists and homosexuals during the most difficult years of the war. The final book, The Ghost Road, follows the characters back to France after their psychological "rehabilitation" and RnR leave. Again, not so much a series war stories (there is actully very little combat recounted at all) as a phychological exploration of the effects of war on the individual, and on an entire generation of young men who have only this moment of great trauma in common with one another.

  • Cathy (cathepsut)
    2019-03-11 19:17

    I read these books in the late '90s, after Ghost Road was first published. I was in love with the British war poets of WWI at the time and this fit right in. I don't remember many details, but these books were great reads. Very athmospheric, accessible and captivating main characters, I suffered with them every step of the way.

  • مروان البلوشي
    2019-02-28 00:08

    تاريخ القراءة الأصلي : ٢٠٠٥اختلاط عظيم للتاريخ بدراما الناس وعبورنا نحو الأبدية

  • Graham
    2019-02-25 20:21

    While it's technically three novels, The Regeneration Trilogy is one story, and for convenience comes in a one-volume omnibus. Any of the parts could be read on its own—there's enough brief recap that one could be aware of the events of the other volumes without having read them, and as the trilogy is character-based rather than plot-based it won't befuddle anyone who jumps in at the middle. However, to do so would do the story an immense disservice. Read in its proper order, Regeneration forms one of the great war stories of our or anyone's time, an epic that takes place almost entirely on the home front as it depicts the final years of perhaps the largest blunder in military or geopolitical history.W. H. R. Rivers doesn't carry a gun, but he sees just as much of the effects of World War I as any soldier. That's his job, in fact. He's a psychologist, and his job is to restore the traumatized, shell-shocked men under his care to some semblance of normal life. Among these patients are Siegfried Sassoon, a poet who refuses to fight not because of pacifism but because of the sheer stupidity of the conflict; Wilfred Owen, a sensitive young man attempting to come to terms with his feelings on the conflict through writing; and Billy Prior, an involuntary sadist who's disconcerted by his sexual proclivities and serves as a counter-analyst to Rivers himself. As the war drags on, and more and more of his patients are returned to the front only to be torn to rags, Rivers struggles to restrain Prior from returning to active duty. However, Prior himself finds his self-disgust increasing the longer he stays away from physical harm, and despite Rivers' protestations begins to believe it's his duty to die in France.A lesser author than Barker would have become bogged down in the "celebrity cameos" of her story, pointing the reader to the historical characters with many a nudge and a wink, and the novels would quickly have become cloying for it. Barker is smarter than this, and treats Rivers, Sassoon and Owen as no more or less than fellow players along with their purely fictional counterparts. A reader who is not at all familiar with the historicity of the characters would never know that they were anything but Barker's inventions (I myself had no idea that Rivers was a real man until I did some research into the novels' background), and this is a good thing. The story within which the characters find themselves would at any rate be compelling even if it were completely fictional. The sheer horror of the experiences that have landed Rivers' men under his care is far better seen in their symptoms and neuroses than it could ever be if simply depicted in the present tense. The significant amount of time spent with "shell-shocked" soldiers is incredibly effective at turning the Great War from a historical abstraction into a concrete reality; they are, of course, suffering from the same post-traumatic stress disorder that is now known and diagnosed today, and the similarities between veterans of the two eras is heart-wrenching. Equally as compelling is the interaction between characters; Rivers and Billy Prior spend the entire trilogy in a game of cat-and-mouse that is never entirely hostile but never entirely friendly, probing each other for weaknesses and explanations and daring the other man to slip first—the fact that this is intended on Rivers' part as a cure makes the game no less a battle. Nearly as interesting is the paradox of Sassoon, a man who considers it his duty to be with his men but refuses to fight in what he considers to be a pointless conflict. Barker uses her men as microcosms of much vaster societal and psychological issues of their day, but never loses sight of them as individuals.One thing that Regeneration most definitely isn't is a slog—its 900 pages fly by. However, the weight of its material is near-tangible. Many other novels have been written about World War I, by authors whose talent is undeniable. Barker's, I think, is the one that will go down as the definitive one. It strikes a perfect balance between the factual and the fictional, the human and the abstract, the individual and the era. Truly an incredible achievement.

  • Ruth Zaryski Jackson
    2019-02-26 22:07

    Absolutely brilliant must-read especially for anyone interested in World War One and shell shock. An unsentimental, raw and intimate trilogy featuring historically accurate figures such as war poets, Sigfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and anthropologist/doctor W.H.R.Rivers. Read it!

  • Mymymble
    2019-02-23 20:21

    Grim, just awful. I've given it 2* because I did get through it, interested to discover what happened to her OCs - so that's a big plus for Barker. Everything else is a minus.I suppose it's not Pat Barker's fault she wrote this before Max Egremont got access to Sassoon's diaries for Siegfried Sassoon: A Life or Cambridge University Press published them, but Sassoon's autobiographical The Complete Memoirs of George Sherston had been around for 70 years and are much more worthwhile to read. Not to mention both the well known and the anonymous poetry of the time, published from the trenches ['Goodbye Old Chum']. Then there are well done modern novels like Atonement and War HorseIndeed Harry Patch, the last Tommy, who died in 2009, spoke with more eloquence and nuance when he was 109 than any characters in Barker's Regeneration trilogy where the voices are both homogenous and anachronistic.It's partly my own fault. I should have remembered - if I don't like the film, I might not like the book(s).

  • Sookie
    2019-02-27 01:23

    The third part, The Ghost Road comes through after a long introduction and slow middle part. The end however is where Pat Barker brings all points of view to a full circle. Barker stands aside and narrates a story like an observer - its harsh, brutal and engaging.

  • Kaye McSpadden
    2019-03-23 00:10

    I just finished the first book of the trilogy, entitled "Regeneration." I have mixed feelings about it. The story focuses on the treatment of World War I soldiers who have experienced psychiatric breakdowns and disorders as a result of the horrors of war. There is also an underlying discussion of the morality and ethics of war itself. On the one hand, I enjoyed learning a little bit about the emerging views of post-combat psychiatric trauma, and I appreciated the fact that several of the characters were based on actual, historical people (especially, the two central characters -- the doctor and the soldier who protested the war).However, I found the writing to be somewhat dry and too intellectual. A story that was relating the emotional response to the horrors of war was itself, not emotional enough. Perhaps this was a reflection of the doctor's view that most of the mental problems were due to soldiers' repressions of their war memories. Or perhaps it's a reflection of the stiff, uptight British culture. Or perhaps it's just my perspective as a result of having just read the beautifully written and emotionally gut-wrenching "Gods Go Begging," which covered some of the same ground in such an amazing way (of course, that was the Vietnam War, not WWI). Whatever the case may be, I didn't find "Regeneration" itself to be as engaging as it should have been. I'm not sure if I will read the second and third volumes in the trilogy or not.

  • Bevan
    2019-02-22 19:25

    RegenerationThe forthcoming anniversary of the Great War should provide some motivation for readers to revisit, or discover this trilogy from the nineties. Acclaimed at the time (topped off by a Booker Prize for the last in the series The Ghost Road) it has been on my 'to read' list for many years. The story centres around an institution for mentally ill soldiers near Edinburgh, and psychologist W H Rivers. A particular focus is his relationship with patient Siegfried Sassoon and the moral conflict between his support for the war and the damage he sees in his patients.The book sometimes feels a bit lacking in incident and plot mobility, but beautifully draws its characters. Pat Barker's research must have been detailed as her insight into the psychological treatment of the time as well as the maladies feels quite authentic. The setting is a really interesting way of exploring the consequences of the war rather than through a traditional battlefield context. Not always an easy read the book is rewarding and insightful, and cleverly intertwines the main theme of wartime trauma and suffering with explorations of masculinity and the role of women in wartime.

  • Lisa
    2019-03-12 01:16

    Hard hitting, thought provoking and moving, this is an excellent trilogy set during the First World War. It deals largely with the psychological effects/trauma that the war had on the men who fought as well as various social issues of the time. These are books that do not shy away from the life-changing impact that the war had on the people involved and they make for some very emotive reading. The amount of research that Pat Barker has done into the subject is astonishing and the whole thing proved to be a real eye opener. I would say that each book is self contained enough to work as a stand alone novel but I think that it's best to read the whole trilogy if possible as certain characters are followed all the way through. I would highly recommend checking these books out if you are interested in the First World War and I look forward to reading some more of Barker's works in the future.The three books that make up this trilogy are 'Regeneration', 'The Eye in the Door' and 'The Ghost Road'.

  • Joe
    2019-03-13 21:05

    It's hard to imagine a more beautiful, more sublime or complex series of books than these by Pat Barker. I said in a recent conversation that they don't even feel as if they were written by a particular person, but that they just appeared, fully formed, to show us all that we need to know about how humans attempt to deal with tragedy; to live with the unlivable. War and its aftermath come to occupy the same place and time in these three books, inextricably linked in a society that does not yet understand how this can be. These are wonderful books that took my breath away and left me with something deep and human to think about for a long, long time.

  • Jane
    2019-02-22 19:18

    The first novel in this trilogy presents us with victims of "shell shock" and other "war neuroses" being treated Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh during WWI. Barker bases some of her characters on historical figures such as poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and the man who led their treatment. Some of the details are brutal, but the writing is excellent, the characters Barker creates compelling. The inclusion of female munitions workers adds a perspective not usually found in either histories or novels on this subject. Highly recommended.

  • Jill
    2019-03-20 22:24

    I read all three novels in this Regeneration series in one reading event, as though they were one book. And this may be the reason that (a) Books 2 and 3 made such sense and the characters in particular were recognisable, following on immediately from the previous book, and (b) I was ready for the series to be over by the time I got to the end of Book 3.I ordered this trilogy online following reviews that said Pat Barker knows WWI better than any other living writer. A previous novel I'd read which referenced WWI intrigued me, and I was keen to read more. And indeed Pat Barker is an insightful and intelligent writer, even if her creations aren't always likeable or easy to relate to.In this "uber novel" (as I thought of the trilogy, reading one book after another as I did), we follow two main characters, Captain Billy Pryor and Dr Will Rivers, as they journey through WWI from their respective positions as active soldier and army psychiatrist. These vantage points give them intersecting but differing points of view, and intersecting but different courses of action. Billy Pryor isn't the most likeable man on the planet, he'd probably be described as "complex" in a modern novel. Dr Rivers is a likeable character, even if he gets a bit fuzzy around the edges at times, and difficult to define. Perhaps both those elements of character are deliberate.We do get some scenes from the front, some war action, but it isn't as direct or confrontational as I might have imagined it was going to be. It's ghastly, and paints a picture so vivid you can see it in your minds' eye very clearly (at least I could). But this isn't what I'd call a "war novel". It's a novel set in war time, involving people engaged in various activities to do with war, but it's about so many other things than the war. I'd call this a character-driven (set of) stories. There is action, things do happen, and the pace was good... but it was all about the characters. Not being English, I found many of the references to those quintessential English qualities - the class system being the biggest - quite challenging (to understand, to relate to). I think if you're English, you would relate to this book very differently to if you aren't.Quite a beautiful series of books in their own way, although I couldn't recommend them to my father, say, because of all the homosexual sex, quite directly described, and alluded to (or at least I think it was being alluded to - that's how oblique the references were!) when it wasn't being graphically brought to life before our very eyes, as it were. Not a set of stories to rip through in an afternoon, I found it took quite some time to get through all 3 novels, which says something to me about the quality of the writing. I appreciated this series of stories more than I liked it.

  • Jan Priddy
    2019-03-06 00:11

    I read the trilogy a few years ago and found it spectacular! Barker has a new novel coming out next year (I hope) of The Iliad from the viewpoint of a woman. It's about time we heard from Her. I have the new translation of The Odyssey translated for the first time by a woman and there is Le Guin's retelling of Cicero's Aeneid from the POV of Lavinia, a significant character who is unvoiced in that poem.

  • Nina
    2019-03-22 00:31

    I found this book hard going but I felt the need to finish it. There are quite a few different story lines each portrayed in great depth and very dipictive. Some parts very graphic and not for the faint hearted reader. Interesting to know that some of the characters did exist. I really felt I knew each character really well by the end. It does give you a real atmospheric read of what it must have been like for those who endured WW1.

  • Geoff
    2019-03-06 00:15

    Bringing history alive in all its gritty and grim and sometime sordid detail.Needless to say underlying this is the futility and waste of war.Thanks goodness for beacons like Rivers

  • Anna
    2019-03-20 19:08

    My introduction to Pat Barker and the Regeneration trilogy was actually via a 2012 Economist book review of Toby's Room (sequel to Life Class): I remember thinking the book sounded fascinating, and putting it on my mental to-read list after reading the Regeneration trilogy and Life Class.I still haven't gotten round to Life Class yet, but I was in an airport bookshop recently and saw the paperback edition of the Regeneration trilogy. I was slightly confused as to why the bookshop had chosen to stock it, until I remembered that it's the hundred-year anniversary of the beginning of the Great War this year.I'm glad they did, because otherwise I suspect it'd have taken a long while for my memory to be jogged re: remembering to read it, and I'd have been unknowingly missing out on a masterpiece.The first book, Regeneration, is set in Craiglockhart, a military hospital on the edge of Edinburgh focusing on treating shell-shocked officers. This is where we meet Siegfried Sassoon (who was sent to Craiglockhart after publishing his Soldier's Declaration against the war), W. H. R. Rivers (the real-life psychiatrist assigned to Sassoon), and Billy Prior (a working class officer and another patient of Rivers', this one fictional). All three characters appear in the subsequent novels: The Eye in the Door puts more emphasis on Billy Prior, and The Ghost Road continues to focus on Prior, while also including Rivers' backstory as an anthropologist on an expedition to the Torres Straits in 1898.Of the three main characters, I warmed very easily to Sassoon (though he's mostly absent from the second and third books), but was especially invested in Rivers, who comes across as a deeply good man doing a difficult job with a great deal of delicacy and sympathy. Prior I found much less personally appealing, and it's to Barker's credit that she made me if not exactly care about what happened to him, certainly be interested in his storylines. This is partly because she sets all her characters against real-world historical events, and uses Prior to discuss various aspects and impacts of the war in England: the social upheaval, changing class structure, political scandal, gradual chipping away at fixed ideas about gender, all are fascinating parts of these books. (I will say that it amuses me greatly that Barker's response to "she writes Books About Women, but can she write men?!?" was pretty much "watch me", as she turned around and wrote a trilogy about an overtly masculine subject, with three male protagonists.)There's an awful lot to talk about as regards The Themes Of These Books, and I can't really do them justice as I'm still mulling them over. I must have finished all three books within about 36 hours, which should give you some idea of just how fascinating the characters' stories are; at the same time, the sublime prose begs you to slow down and savour every word.Highly, highly recommended.(Incidentally, I was pleasantly surprised by how good I thought the 1997 film version -- called either Regeneration or Behind the Lines depending on where you are -- of the first novel was.)

  • Kyle
    2019-02-25 01:18

    “Regeneration” is the first in a trilogy of historical fiction novels set around World War 1 that involves real personalities along with a few fictional characters sprinkled in to complete the story. This review covers the first book, and it is a different kind of war novel than I’ve ever read before because it didn’t focus much at all on major battles or the ebb and flow of the war. Instead, it focused on the psychological impact of the war and treatment of officers and soldiers exposed to brutal scenes over a prolonged period. This included medical procedures such as shock therapy as well as psychological procedures for dealing with the stresses of war. Unfortunately, I didn’t care for the way the author chose to tell the story because I found I didn’t really care about any of the characters and I felt sexuality was a bit overused.The primary characters in the story are Seigfried Sassoon and Dr. W.H.R. Rivers, both of which are historical figures from WW1. Billy Prior is a fictional character along with a handful of others that appear at Craiglockhart War Hospital, which was a place to rehabilitate soldiers that had nervous breakdowns on the field of battle. The challenge I found with the novel is who I was supposed to really care about and want to see grow and develop. It didn’t feel like the author spent enough time with any one character to really form a bond and really see that character evolve. Instead, the author jumped perspectives between Sassoon, Rivers, Prior, and their involvement with other minor characters throughout the story.The story does include some battle scenes, but they are told secondhand as some distressed soldier recounted horrific events that led to his nervous breakdown. The way the author recounted these scenes made them seem rather cold and removed like I was eavesdropping on a private conversation. What was missing was the firsthand accounts of camaraderie, closeness between soldiers, and shared hardships that would have really helped the reader understand why some of the events would have been so tragic to endure.Another reason the story didn’t really work for me was because the author seemed to have a fixation with sexuality. There were a couple mild sex scenes featuring a man and women, there were allusions to homosexual behavior between the soldiers, and some strange sexual diagnoses/analysis at various times when Sassoon and Rivers were looking at dreams and/or events. At times, I was really perplexed why some of these scenes were in the book.Overall, I thought this first book was OK, and it was somewhat interesting to see how doctors dealt with soldiers that were suffering from the stresses of war. There just wasn’t enough of interest in this first novel for me to continue the series, which is a bit disappointing because I was looking for a good WW1 read.

  • Yumiko Hansen
    2019-03-20 18:02

    -- Just finished "The Re generation Trilogy" -- what a fascinating book it was!!!! Although I was rather disappointed after reading "Regeneration" which is the first book in a trilogy: It would have been more enjoyable if the book was more focused on the characters's 'background'. I , however, started to enjoy Barker's writing style from the second part onward: very descriptive and powerful. The use of small, lovely details against the backdrop of the vulgarity that was WW1, serves to make the book all the more moving.Barker uses a handful of historical figures and a few fictional characters to get into the psychology of the young Englishmen who fought in the trenches of France.Book1: It is about Siegfried Sasson (soldier and famous poet) who protested the war in 1917, and for this, he was sent to the mental hospital. receiving treatment at Craiglockhart Hospital during WW1, which is ostensibly true, but it gives the wrong impression about who the book is really about. More than Sasson or Robert Graves or Wildfred Owen, all of whom make appearances, this book is really about Dr. William Rivers who was to restore the sanity of the men there confined and return them to duty.Book2: Central to this second story of Trilogy is Lieutenant Billy Prior, released from treatment for shell shock by Dr. Rivers. Prior is a working-class officer, in Intelligence when he longs to be back at the Front, investigating anti-war pacifists, most of whom he grew up with as a child, bisexual, and the strains of this shatter his psyche and he suffers from memory lapses, blackouts and even a split personality.The Western Front only makes a physical appearance in the final novel -- this is the trilogy about the mental scars of war, about the evelution of mental health care, about sexuality and national pride. This is my favourite book of the trilogy.Book3: Final book in the WW1 Trilogy: this focuses most on Rivers, the psychiatrist, as he recalls his experiences in Melanesia working with a tribal healer, mixed in with his daily round of work with distressed soldiers. This alternates with Billy Prior's diary as he recounts his return to trench warfare after his treatment for shell-shock by Rivers.-- MUST read!!!

  • Falkor
    2019-02-26 20:06

    This haunting, elegiac trilogy of novels about World War I focuses not on adventure and heroism but on the deep scars that the trauma of war leaves on the psyches of soldiers. The first book, Regeneration, is about the efforts of Dr. William H.R. Rivers, a real life pioneering psychiatrist, to help officers hospitalized for "shell shock." His patients include a man who has been unable to eat since a decaying corpse exploded in his face, getting into his mouth; a man who cannot speak and cannot remember anything from his last three days on the front line; and the real life writer and decorated veteran Siegfried Sassoon, who has no symptoms of illness but was committed after publicly denouncing the war. The sequel, The Eye in the Door, follows one of the fictional characters, Billy Prior, as he attempts to adjust to civilian life after being taken out of active service, again with help from Dr. Rivers. Prior's loyalties are severely tested when, while working for military intelligence, he is sent to arrest an old friend of his, a socialist activist leading an underground network helping men avoid the draft. In The Ghost Road, Prior, wracked with guilt over being at home while his fellow soldiers are suffering and dying, volunteers to return to active duty. He serves with another real life figure: Wilfred Owen, who won a medal for bravery and later became famous for his anti-war poetry. As Prior and Owen march again into battle, Dr. Rivers fights a severe fever that triggers hallucinations of traumatic events in his own life, which sheds light on his determination to help others heal.The writing in this series is clear, spare and never sensational or pitying, even when describing the gruesome experiences of the soldiers and the disturbing post trauma behavior they exhibit. Lt. Prior and Dr. Rivers are the central characters across the three books, and each is fascinating. Both are intelligent, empathetic, and full of inner conflict, although on the surface very different. Lt. Prior is a moody, sarcastic young man from a turbulent working class household who doubts he can control his inner demons; Dr. Rivers a soft-spoken, gentle scholar from a genteel family who feels compelled to try to understand the dark side of the mind. The best moments in the story are when these two extraordinary characters play off of each other.

  • Bill Tyne
    2019-03-13 02:06

    In giving this volume a three star rating I am judging the trilogy as a whole. The first book in the series is by far and away the best. All the characters are beautifully drawn and believable. The situations feel authentic and you get a real sense of gaining some understanding of how the First World War impacted on the lives of everyone. Sadly in the later volumes the fictitious character of Billy Prior becomes less and less believable as Barker uses him to explore the prejudices and ills of society at large including domestic abuse (so Billys father beat his mother), class issues (Billy is an intelligent boy from a working class background), the backlash against pacifists (Billy works in a government post which seeks to identify those aiding deserters and at the same time spent much of his childhood with a woman who became a prominant pascifist), homophobia (Billy is a bisexual - if he'd been straight forwardly gay then bringing in a female love interest to explore the changing role of women would have been difficult but as a bisexual the author gets to play with some many more conflicting issues). In the end the central character looses any sense of being a real character and feels more like a useful tool for the author to use to gain access to her pet hobby horses. The is especially clear in the use of the psychological fugues which Billy suffers (fugues of the duration and form that Billy experiences are beyond rare and for a character already overburdened with baggage this take things past the point of realism which the first book had managed to attain). The final scene in the Ghost Road capped of everything with a weak ending that felt lifted directly from every hackneyed Hollywood war movie you've ever seen - I could almost hear Barbers adagio playing in the background. In short and extremely promising start spoiled somewhat by the authors desire to make too many points through the use of one character.

  • Tania
    2019-03-15 19:06

    I'm not sure I'm quite the person to properly say this a I'm really not well-acquainted with WWI but I'd say that unlike some media I could mention it felt authentic to the era. Of course the war is horrific and it doesn't shy away from from that yet without removing the horror of what happened it managed to get over the ambiguity of how those involved felt about it because it's known that some of the historical figures in the book did chose to go back. Strangely as the books went on it went from almost focusing more on the historical figures to Barker's own character Prior. Certainly the first and third books were very different in this respect. This wasn't necessarily problematic as Prior meshed very well with the actual figures but I wondered if his was a telling, that to use another's word "grew in the telling" as Barker became attached to the character. This does mean that one's reading of the book is dependent on their feelings on Prior though the gradual nature of his narrative taking charge helped this. Prior is not necessarily likeable and parts of his character perhaps didn't quite work for me but he's certainly physiologically complex. Some might find his frankness about sex and sexuality refreshing. Certainly the books depiction of the gay members of London society during WWI isn't a part usually focused on. Personally I preferred reading about the Doctor, Rivers. He's was a very interesting perspective on the war and it was easy to get drawn into his attempts to help and how they'd work. The third book in particular goes into his background and his anthropological work in the Pacific. This is rather interesting but while I can see what Barker is trying to do I didn't find it quite meshed with the rest of the book.

  • Dera Weaver
    2019-03-13 01:05

    Perhaps I made the wrong choice by "reading" this trilogy as travel books on Audible. One or two long car trips got me through the first two; and then I struggled to finish the last one ("Ghost Road", the Booker Prize winner), partly because of no long trips so the listening was chopped up into small segments. This trilogy is basically more atmospheric than action-packed, and maybe that's why I couldn't finish it, but I haven't had that problem before with audiobooks. I feel strongly that it's my fault, though, and not the book's. At some point I may go back and make my peace with a physical copy of that final instalment.The trilogy explores WWI from within the agony of patients at Cragilockhart, a hospital for soldiers suffering from shellshock. There's a mix of actual historical figures (Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and W. H. Rivers) and fictional inventions; throughout, details like the Munitionettes, girls whose skin and hair were turned yellow by their work with dangerous chemicals in the munitions factory, really opened that time period up for me.I've read of others who also felt that the "Ghost Road" was not the best of the three books, and a few who, like me, didn't finish it, so I can feel a little vindicated? Still, the first two books have stayed with me, vivid reminders of the horrors we visit on each other in the name of just trying to help; sensitive storytelling that, while it can't keep the horrors at bay, makes the knowledge somehow bearable -- the unfair luxury that fiction allows us. (less)

  • Mikael Kuoppala
    2019-03-20 20:08

    The best analysis of war I have ever read. It focuses on the psychological and sosiological damages of war and truly illustrates the pointlessness of it all.“Regenaration” is a masterful beginning for a strong trilogy of books that study WWI from a psychososiological perspective, featuring both real historical characters and truly interesting fictional ones.I’m not that hot on historical and especially war novels, but Barker has created a deeply meaningful, beautiful and extremely powerful masterpiece that takes war and examines it from the point of view of the individual. This is pacifistic literature at its most convincing and beautiful.“The Eye in the Door” is an astonishing read, the second and best volume of Barker's ingenious WWI trilogy offers an intriguing analysis on war and its effects on people and society by keeping completely away from battlefields and showing the symptomatic paranoia and repression a warring nation imposes on its citizens. Devastatingly strong prose that will stay with you forever.A bit more incoherent and less original than its predecessors in the WWI trilogy, "The Ghost Road" still manages to be one of the best war novel ever written. Barker’s point of view is more sociological in this final installment to her magnificent trilogy, which might be the only reason this piece doesn’t feel quite as condensed and explodingly powerful as her two previous masterpieces.

  • Ballyroan Reads
    2019-03-07 23:18

    These three inter-related historical novels are set during the First World War and deal mainly with the treatment of soldiers suffering from the effect of shell shock. Several of the characters are based on historical figures such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, famous war-poets but the series centers on Billy Prior, a fictional working class officer.The opening novel is set in Craiglockhart Hospital which served as a psychiatric facility for war casualties in reality, and another of the principal characters, W.H.R. Rivers is based on a pioneering psychiatrist and anthropologist of the same name.In the later section “The Ghost Road” we learn of his experiences on an Anthropological expedition to the Torres straits twenty years before. Rivers comes across as empathetic towards his patients, contrasting with the attitudes and treatment of other medical staff at the time though it should be remembered that the soldiers involved were officers; I wonder how private men suffering from war trauma fared.The writer gives us a good picture of what life and society was like in Britain and at the front during the conflict, mainly through the experiences of Prior. It’s definitely worth a read.More book reviews from library staff on our blog, BALLYROAN READS:

  • Deirdre
    2019-03-03 18:05

    Damn, I'm not sure about that end though it was telegraphed.

  • Betty
    2019-03-18 00:07

    I read this trilogy after finishing "To End All Wars" by Adam Hochschild, which looks at WWI history from the vantage point of England. Since I seem to be on a roll with WWI, I decided to listen to Pat Barker's books that deal with the same period. The novels take place mostly in England, and the two main characters are the psychiatrist Rivers (a real person) and one of his patients, Billy Pryor (fictitious). By weaving the action around this pair, Barker is able to explore the terrible waste of the war, not only in lives and limbs but also in minds. Among other historical characters who enter the novels are Siegfried Sassoon, the poet and officer from an aristocratic family who scandalizes everyone by refusing to return to duty in protest of the continued slaughter, and Wilfrid Owen, one of the best-known poets of the war, who was killed in action shortly before the armistice was signed. The novels raise interesting questions about what it means to be civilized, how we confront conflicting loyalties, and the difficulty of maintaining personal decency and integrity in a context of senseless violence, mass self-deceit, and blind nationalism. I found them quite thought-provoking.

  • Rachael Eyre
    2019-03-18 21:04

    I'll keep this brief, because I could happily recount its virtues all day, but I loved it. With its motley cast of characters- my absolute favourite being the anthropologist turned psychiatrist Dr Rivers- and its refusal to shy away from gay themes, it was fantastic.That's not to say it's without flaws. Billy Prior, ostensibly the main character (and one of the few completely fictional figures to appear) is incredibly unsympathetic and given to jaw dropping behaviour- while he's tentatively diagnosed as schizophrenic, that doesn't begin to touch upon everything that's wrong with him. I was mildly bothered by him being the only bi character in the series; all the gay characters (even the asexual Rivers) are much more likeable. I also felt it was guilty of padding sometimes, particularly in the third book with the flashbacks to Rivers' experiences with a witch doctor. These could have been excised with little harm done to the rest of the story. I really liked Sarah, the one major female character in an otherwise masculine world.One of the best holiday reading experiences I've had; I thoroughly enjoyed it.