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The Ghost Road by Pat Barker
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The Ghost Road (original 1995; edition 1995)

by Pat Barker

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2,118443,100 (3.99)273
Member:lilianboerboom
Title:The Ghost Road
Authors:Pat Barker
Info:E. P. Dutton (1995), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
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The Ghost Road by Pat Barker (1995)

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Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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 |
It was on the New Classics list but I didn't enjoy it much, just not interesting. Easy to read, but also a bit mixed up in jumping between characters without much of a hint that the view has changed. ( )
  deldevries | Feb 9, 2016 |
This is a superb trilogy. Beautiful writing and character development. The depiction of life in the trenches during World War 1 is vividly drawn. ( )
  HelenBaker | Feb 3, 2016 |
too all over the place literally for me. so many people, i can only remember 3-- rivers, some guy whose name i can't remember, who was bisexual and HALLET. ( )
  mahallett | Aug 2, 2015 |
This book is the final book in the WWI anti-war Regeneration trilogy, and winner of the Booker Prize in 1995.

Once again, the fictional Billy Prior takes a central role in this book, as he did in The Eye in the Door. Real life psychologist and anthropologist William Rivers also features prominently in the story. Prior and real life poet Wilfred Owen have been "mended" and are headed back to the front in France for the final push. Rivers is feeling the pressure of pronouncing these men "fit" which means sending them back to a war in which he no longer believes. As a younger man and anthropologist, Rivers had been living with a tribe of headhunters in the South Pacific. Now suffering from influenza, in his fevered state, he keeps remembering their rituals surrounding death. Barker transitions between these memories and entries in Prior's diary in an effective way.

The first book was centered at the Craiglockhart War Hospital. the second was centered in London with Prior doing intelligence work, and the third takes place on the battlefield in France and in Rivers' memories of the South Pacific. All three books are brutal in their own way. Barker writes the books from a man's perspective, and makes it all seem as gritty as possible. Prior is bisexual, and Barker uses some very graphic sex scenes in the second and third book to get this point across.

My favorite book of the trilogy was Regeneration, and I think that the Booker Prize may have been a recognition of the trilogy in its entirety. I gave The Ghost Road 3.5 stars, but would give the trilogy a 4.

Read Oct 2013 ( )
  NanaCC | Jul 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (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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Epigraph
Now all roads lead to France
And heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead
Returning lightly dance

~ 'Roads', Edward Thomas
Dedication
For David
First words
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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Editions: 014103095X, 0141399376

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