Monday, March 9, 2009

The Ghost Road

By Pat Barker.

The Ghost RoadThe Ghost Road is the third book in Pat Barker’s First World War Regeneration Trilogy, following Regeneration, and The Eye in the Door.

The Ghost Road picks up the story in the closing days of the war as Dr. Rivers tries to make sense of what has happened and obsesses over whether he has actually helped any of the war wounded in his care. He has done his job, but is sending men who are “cured” back to France to face almost certain further injury or death morally justified? Reminiscences of his childhood and his experiences with the primitive head-hunting tribes of Micronesia provide further insight into his character.

Two of the patients in his care, Billy Prior and the poet Wilfred Owen are among those who go back to the front. Prior has an option to stay in  England but chooses, in fact feels compelled, to return. The details of their last few days of the war at the front are chilling indeed as they try to survive even as talk of an armistice is heavy in the air.

A winner of the 1995 Booker Prize, this book is very good – not quite as good as Regeneration, in my opinion, but a worthy read nonetheless. Furthermore, the reader would be best advised to read the trilogy in sequence, otherwise much of the context and some of the character development would be missed.


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