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The Ghost Road (1995)

by Pat Barker

Other authors: Peter Firth (Narrator)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Regeneration (3)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,807574,853 (3.98)348
1918, and Billy Prior is in France once again. A real test case for the 'shell-shock' therapies practised at Craiglockhart War Hospital where, with Wilfred Owen, he was a patient. In London, Prior's psychologist, William Rivers, tends to his new patients, more young men whose lives and minds have been shattered.… (more)
Recently added byTreestarcat, private library, JAGothard, Laudir, TraceyDalton, krbex, rubyll, eggnog2085
Legacy LibrariesGillian Rose, Robert Ranke Graves
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    A Long, Long Way by Sebastian Barry (shaunie)
    shaunie: Barker's book, although more plainly written, is if anything more powerful than Barry's, which is so beautiful and poetic.

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» See also 348 mentions

English (53)  Dutch (2)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
The conclusion of Pat Barker's 'Regeneration' trilogy. Yet more with the cynical Prior... and also Dr. Rivers, mostly recalling when he was visiting Melanesia (Fiji?), as a different approach to "ghosts". Sassoon is MIA here, however. I would say the first book, 'Regeneration' is the most important. It's so good you don't even realize the book never sets foot in the trenches, and keeps to the military hospital. The third book actually does go into the war, but I can't see that it improves upon the first book. The first book is so good at visiting the psychological effects of battle and with the third, it's sometimes too busy being within it. It's almost like the first book should have been the last to really hit home, or at least feel like the other two books were leading somewhere. The second book 'The Eye in the Door' might even be better than this one. However, I do not at all regret reading all three books.
*Book #130 I have read of the '1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die' ( )
  booklove2 | Dec 17, 2022 |
This historical fiction is the final book of the Regeneration trilogy set in Europe during WWI. It focuses on finishing the stories of Dr. William Rivers (a real person) and Billy Prior, whom we followed closely in the first two books. It is a character study of the two main characters as they deal with a traumatic past and the horrors of war. We learn about Rivers’ experiences in Melanesia and Prior’s return to the front.

Themes include the psychological effects of war, duty, class prejudice, and friendships on the front lines. It also addresses cultural changes in Melanesian tribal communities brought about by British colonial influences. Regeneration is my favorite of the trilogy, with this book as a close second, and The Eye in the Door third. After reading this trilogy and a few others, Pat Barker has become one of my favorite authors.

( )
  Castlelass | Oct 30, 2022 |
I read the first and third books of the Trilogy, haven't read the second yet but I sure will after reading this. The plot alternates between Billy Prior and William Rivers. War is coming to an end but Billy had to go back to the war front. Furthermore, he had to lead his men on an attack that seemed doomed. You feel a tinge of sadness knowing that his death is so futile. In contrast, the Melanesian tribe had a more considered approach to death. Yes, it's primitive but the supposedly more civilized men fighting the war aren't any better. ( )
  siok | Nov 13, 2021 |
This is a brilliant end to the trilogy and the diary entries by Prior in France are heartbreaking as the dates march closer to the end of the war.

Then there are the sections from earlier in River's career as he studies a tribe in Melanesia, these are an interesting new perspective and counterpoint to the European war which remind us that humans are doomed to be at war with each other.

I just thought it was a fantastic series and a different way to approach writing about WWI. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Jul 26, 2021 |
The Ghost Road is a war novel unlike many others. Set in England and France at the end of World War I, it borrows the viewpoints of the often overlooked: men being treated for mental illness. One of these is bisexual; homosexuality was considered both an illness and a crime at the time.

In a style similar to Tim O'Brien's in its thoughtfulness and attention to detail, Barker explores the aftereffects of war with compassion, but not sentiment. One of her most interesting methods is the flashbacks of Dr. Rivers. An anthropologist turned psychologist, Rivers intersperses narration about treating current trauma cases with memories of his research in Melanesia. There, he studied a tribe that was dying out because their warlike way of life was being suppressed; in the present, he treats men going mad due to their tribe’s latest war. The parallels allow the reader to compare both cultures from a more objective point of view.

The Ghost Road is a quick but moving read that reminds us that we take our neuroses and our passions everywhere, even to war. Perhaps even especially to war.
( )
1 vote stephkaye | Dec 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (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 (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barker, Patprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Firth, PeterNarratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
宋瑛堂Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crossley, StevenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fienbork, MatthiasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Firth, PeterNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hansen, Fjord TrierNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Κολώνιας, ΜπάμπηςTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kolōnias, BampēsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Luque, OlivaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Møller-Madsen, LisbethTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McGann, PaulNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pleitgen, UlrichNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sanders, DaniyelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
van Dijk, EdithTranslatorsecondary 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.
The reader may wish to know more about some of the historical characters encountered in this novel. (Author's Note)
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1918, and Billy Prior is in France once again. A real test case for the 'shell-shock' therapies practised at Craiglockhart War Hospital where, with Wilfred Owen, he was a patient. In London, Prior's psychologist, William Rivers, tends to his new patients, more young men whose lives and minds have been shattered.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014103095X, 0141399376


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