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The Ghost Road by Pat Barker

The Ghost Road (original 1995; edition 1995)

by Pat Barker

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2,175482,985 (3.99)278
Title:The Ghost Road
Authors:Pat Barker
Info:E. P. Dutton (1995), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Ghost Road by Pat Barker (1995)



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» See also 278 mentions

English (45)  Dutch (2)  German (1)  All (48)
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Devastating. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
In this last book of Pat Barker's much acclaimed REGENERATION trilogy, she gives us a more complete history of central character Dr William Rivers with flashbacks to his time as a medical researcher in Melanesia, working with a remote tribe of head hunters, blending this backstory seamlessly into his current job treating shell shocked soldiers back from the French front in 1918. The home front propaganda battle against pacifism and homosexuality continues to be important elements in THE GHOST ROAD. Billy Prior and Wilfred Owen are semi-central to this part of the story, while Sassoon is only peripherally present. All of these characters are 'in hiding' regarding their sexuality - and there are subtle implications that Dr Rivers himself may also be homosexual. Prior in particular is once again shown to be torn about his sexual identity, holding tender feelings about Sarah, his fiancee, while still indulging in some rather brutal and unfeeling homosexual encounters.

The shell-shock, or PTSD, part of the story remains important too, as evidenced in Prior's journal entries about how unreal it feels to come back home after experiencing the brutality of battle, likening it to Rip Van Winkle waking up after years, or the children who followed the Pied Piper -

"Children do go into the mountain and not come back. We've all been home on leave and found home so foreign that we couldn't fit in. What about after the war? But perhaps it's better not to think about that. Tempting fate."

Another line near the end of the book hit home for me. It comes shortly after Prior is compelled to kill a young dog in cold blood because of the noise it's making just before a major advance.

"Then they were moving forward, hundreds of men, eerily quiet, starlit shadows barely darkening the grass. And no dogs barked."

That last sentence chillingly echoes the title of Canadian Farley Mowat's WWII memoir, AND NO BIRDS SANG.

Chilling. Perhaps that best describes Pat Barker's trilogy of the far-reaching and long-lasting effects of the awful nightmare of trench warfare in WWI. Of the three books, I still think the first, REGENERATION, is the best. But I will strongly recommend the entire trilogy.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the Cold War memoir, SOLDIER BOY: AT PLAY IN THE ASA ( )
  TimBazzett | Jan 7, 2017 |
The third book of the trilogy seems as if it could stand on it's own. I can understand why this book, above the first two, won the Booker Prize. Going back and forth between Billy Prior's narrative in France and Rivers' memories as an anthropologist in the Torres Straits, Barker brings her point on war home. There is little difference between the head-hunting cultures in the Torres Straits and the barbaric war fought in Europe. The hypocrisy of England's disgust of the native "savageness" while sending a generation of men to die shines through the narrative.

The first book was still my favorite, mainly because it dealt with the psychological trauma in the setting of a "looney-bin," as Prior calls it. The intimate setting allowed us to see how much damage can really be done even if one survives the battlefield. The third book was a great ending to the trilogy, though the romantic in me wishes for a different ending. ( )
  Sareene | Oct 22, 2016 |
Here Barker flawlessly displays her ability to move her audience by not one jot. I came to it with some expectations; not just because of the Booker but also because here was the culmination of the trilogy / long novel. What I got was a finger nail paring. A smooth and highly readable paring but a paring nonetheless. ( )
  Lukerik | Jul 12, 2016 |
This book is the final offering in Barker's trilogy about World War I. I had read the first two, Regeneration and The Eye in the Door, when they were first published but this one which was published in 1995 was a victim to lack of time when I returned to school. There are bunches of books published in 1994, 1995 and 1996 which I missed and am finally getting around to reading 20 or more years later. This book won the 1995 Booker Prize and, now that I have finished it, I can say it was a deserving recipient.

The time period of this book is the fall of 1918 which we all now know was to be the last gasp of WWI. Even at that time the countries involved and the soldiers knew the war was coming to a close. But both sides continued to fight and many lives were lost. In the original books men diagnosed with shell shock were sent to a hospital in Scotland where Dr. Rivers attempted to cure them even though he was ambivalent about the task because he knew if he was successful the men would be going back to fight. Among the men he treated were some of the great poets of World War I including Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. They only appear tangentially in this final book which centres on the journal of Billy Prior, a fictional character who was treated with Sassoon, Owen and the others, and the thoughts of Dr. Rivers. Prior to the war Rivers was an anthropologist studying the head hunting tribes in Melanesia and he draws parallels between this European war and the culture of death on the other side of the world.

Barker does a superb job of exploring the inner workings of the minds of Prior and Rivers. As a female it must have been much like an anthropological study because men, especially men of the early 20th century, are as big a mystery as the tribes of remote regions to me. It is clear that she did a lot of research judging by the list of books she recommends for further reading. However, she must have also spent considerable time putting herself into her characters' minds.

Highly recommended but probably only after reading the other two books in the trilogy. ( )
  gypsysmom | Jun 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
Pat Barker has incorporated many of the actual words of the war's most eloquent narrators in her complex and ambitious work . . . too striking as hybrids of fact and possibility, easy humor and passionate social argument to be classified as anything but the masterwork to date of a singular and ever-evolving novelist who has consistently made up her own rules.

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barker, Patprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dijk, Edith vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Now all roads lead to France
And heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead
Returning lightly dance

~ 'Roads', Edward Thomas
For David
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In the deck-chairs all along the front the bald pink knees of Bradford businessmen nuzzled the sun.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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This book challenges our assumptions about relationships between the classes, doctors and patients, men and women, and men and men. It completes the author's exploration of the First World War, and is a timeless depiction of humanity in extremis Originally published: London: Viking, 1995.… (more)

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4 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014103095X, 0141399376

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