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Another World by Pat Barker

Another World

by Pat Barker

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8161816,795 (3.29)35



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Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
As usual, Pat Barker's writing was excellent. The book was absorbing, and I enjoyed it, but I was left wondering why she chose to bring together two very different stories. Also, why did she introduce the ghost-story element? Would love to be able to discuss it with someone else who's read it. ( )
  meredk | May 17, 2019 |
I am glad that this is the last book on my shelf by Pat Barker, because I found this to be such a depressing read. It was published in 1998 some three year after Ghost road which was the final part of her Regeneration trilogy. Another World could almost be an addendum to the Regeneration books because one of the themes of the book is an old first world war soldier’s (Geordie is 101) difficulties of coming to terms with incidents from the war. Juxtaposed with his struggles as he stares into the face of his own demise is his sons own struggles with his extended family. Nick is in the unenviable position of having to help look after his deteriorating father while trying to keep his second family from imploding: tiredness and exhaustion exasperate an already fraught situation.

In my opinion there is too much going on in this story which barrels along leaving its characters strewn in its wake. The most developed character is Geordie who heroically faces his mortality while harbouring a terrible secret: usually where two threads of a storyline are run in parallel one can see connections of plot or theme, in this case the only connection seems to be the family connection, Geordie’s struggles seem to have very little bearing on the problems of Nick’s second family apart from adding to Nick’s tiredness. Barker is adept at touches of observation that seem so right and her dialogue can be spot on, but where she struggles in my opinion is in her analysis of the issues created by her storyline and this is not helped by a continually changing POV. We get snatches of characters feelings, wants and desires, but overall there is little depth to them and their actions are not always consistent in the way that Barker has presented them. There is also her theme of ghosts either from the past or in the present that seem little more than vehicles for her plot.

A story about a struggling family and a first world war veteran stricken with cancer is not going to be a fun read, but Barker wants to rub her readers noses in the dirt and the filth. Sex and of course there is sex in Barker’s books is totally joyless, family members go out of their way to create problems for themselves and Geordie’s illness is graphically described . A centre of calm is provided by Helen an author and psychologist who has been recording Geordie’s war time experiences, but she is little more than a stock character. For me Barker’s eagerness to tell a story and to create a realistic scenario has resulted in a book that lacks depth. A bit of a disappointment and so three stars. ( )
3 vote baswood | Mar 12, 2019 |
Gripping and painful - an unfliching description of the most banal and terrible difficulties of new and fractured families, set against the shadows of the First World War and the immanence of death
  otterley | Jul 15, 2018 |
“Another person's life, observed from the outside, always has a shape and definition that one's own life lacks.”

The central theme of this novel is how wounds of the past have the ability to affect the present. Nick, a Newcastle teacher, is the central character but much of the plot revolves around his 101 year old grandfather, Geordie. Geordie is dying of cancer and is deeply disturbed by memories of his time in the WWI trenches, in particular that he killed his brother there. Nick is deeply attached to his grandfather but is also suffering difficulties closer to home. Nick, his pregnant wife, stepson and son have recently moved into a Victorian house which seems to be haunted by the apparition of a young girl who was once suspected of killing her younger brother. On top of this, Nick's daughter from his first marriage has come to spend some of the summer holidays with them which seems to only inflame his stepson's, Gareth, jealousy and aggression towards his baby brother. This in many respects is the 'modern' dysfunctional family.

There are obvious parallels between the generations but, perhaps surprisingly given the adept way that the author handled the Regeneration trilogy plots, these appear peculiarly forced relying as it does on two books. One which features the murder of a child in the house that the family now lives in and the other the transcript of interviews that Geordie has given to a researcher friend of Nick's. Consequently the plot feels somewhat unwieldy rather than like jigsaw pieces gradually slotting together.

Equally the author seems to flit between the various characters, rather like a bee in a buttercup meadow, giving the reader a little taster of each but without really giving them any real sense of flavour meaning that they all seem to be pulling in very different directions as they struggle with their own individual issues. This largely caused me frustration rather than sympathy for any of them.

The only time that the narrative seems to really come to life is when Barker plunges into the legacy of guilt that Geordie suffered because of his traumatic experiences in the trenches, his confused relationship with his brother and simply the fact that he had survived when so many others had not. He does not have an easy death either, 'I am in hell,' are his dying words.

Overall Barker has created a disturbing tale which has glimpses of the power and passion that she has brought to previous pieces of work. However, its execution rather lets it down meaning that it feels contrived and lacking in something truly vital. ( )
2 vote PilgrimJess | Mar 29, 2018 |
World War One, a speciality of Pat Barker, is present in every page of this tale of war veteran 101-year old Geordie, living through his final days with his grandson Nick. Woven through Geordie’s story are the threads of Nick’s life, his extended family involving wife, step son and half-siblings. In the modern day there are tensions between siblings, as there were between Geordie and his brother.
Pat Barker is an author who does not flinch from showing the human reactions that in real life we prefer to hide: sibling jealousy, sibling hate and underlying it all, selfishness. How these emotions affect this family, from 101-year old Geordie to his great-grandson Jasper, a toddler, is fascinating and often a difficult read.
A sideline from the main story is the life of the family who lived in the house where Nick has just moved with pregnant wife Fran, Fran’s son Gareth, and Fran and Nick’s son Jasper. Also visiting is Miranda, Nick’s daughter. I said the family ties were twisted. Tidying an overgrown rose on the wall of the house, Nick unveils a plaque labelled ‘Fanshawe’. This is the name of the family who lived in this house, Fanshawe made his money from armaments. When parents and children strip wallpaper off the walls, they unveil a portrait of a family. Is it the Fanshawes, or is it them? And so Barker introduces the ghostly strand with uncanny echoes between then and now.
This is a slim volume, read quickly, but not so quickly as to miss the delicacy of Barker’s writing. Here is Nick on his grandfather: ‘Nick feels he’s never known him, not because they’ve been distant from each other – far from it – but because they’ve been too close. It’s like seeing somebody an inch away, so that if you were asked to describe them you could probably manage to recall nothing more distinctive than the size of the pores in their nose.’
A slim volume with such acute observations about human nature, ‘Another World’ makes you feel uncomfortable and ask questions of yourself. I read every novel Barker writes. Her 'Regeneration' trilogy, including the 1995 Booker Prize-winning ‘The Ghost Road’, is a must.
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Nov 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
This is exactly why Barker is so impressive: she accepts contradiction. Her novels reach for the truth, but she never pretends to have found it. A mystery always remains. That is all the truth there is; and besides, mystery is better to read about than proclamations of certainty.
"Another World'' demonstrates the extraordinary immediacy and vigor of expression we have come to expect from Barker -- brilliant touches of observation, an unfailing ear for dialogue, a talent for imagery that is darting and brief but wonderfully apt. . . The narrative pace is superbly maintained -- this is a novel that doesn't allow you to miss a sentence.

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Pat Barkerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dijk, Edith vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Remember: the past won't fit

into memory without something left over;

it must have a future.

-Joseph Brodsky
For David, Donna and Gillon

-with love
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Book description
A book full of characters: 101 year old Geordie, war veteran now enduring his last painful days with stomach cancer, war guilt and love for a younger woman; Fran the exhausted housewife struggling to unite step children in a chaotic home; Gareth the insecure and disturbed teenager; Nick the pivotal character. When decorating the family uncover a Victorian family portrait on the wall. Only Nick realizes its grim significance, and keeps this to himself. All aspects of life are incorporated into this chilling six week insight into a dysfunctional family where the past casts shadows over the present.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312203977, Paperback)

The Regeneration Trilogy (Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road) established Pat Barker as one of the most powerful and versatile novelists writing today. Her eighth novel, Another World, is a powerful and complex tale of family, memory, illness, and war. Haunted by memories of the First World War, Geordie is dying of cancer, while his grandson Nick, haunted by the violence of families past (and present), struggles with his thoroughly modern marriage: angry stepchildren, exhausting toddler, miserably pregnant wife. Wracked by guilt, Geordie relives his brother's death in the trenches and his mother's grieving verdict: "It should have been you." Uncovering the intimate and public reach of Geordie's history, Nick is forced up against the "power of old wounds to leak into the present" and the paradoxical fragility--or pliancy--of personal memory. Weaving into her fictional worlds some of the most disturbing images of contemporary Britain--including that of "an older boy taking a toddler by the hand while his companion strides ahead, eager for the atrocity to come"--Barker draws her themes together into a remarkable, sometimes ruthless, study of family life and death. --Vicky Lebeau, Amazon.co.uk

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:16 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

A British novel on family tensions whose protagonists include children from a couple's previoius marriage and a dying grandfather who is reliving the horrors of World War I.

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