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Border Crossing [Paperback]

Pat Barker
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 April 2002

Border Crossing is Pat Barker's unflinching novel of darkness, evil and society.

When Tom Seymour, a child psychologist, plunges into a river to save a young man from drowning, he unwittingly reopens a chapter from his past he'd hoped to forget. For Tom already knows Danny Miller. When Danny was ten Tom helped imprison him for the killing of an old woman. Now out of prison with a new identity, Danny has some questions - questions he thinks only Tom can answer.

Reluctantly, Tom is drawn back into Danny's world - a place where the border between good and evil, innocence and guilt is blurred and confused. But when Danny's demands on Tim become extreme, Tom wonders whether he has crossed a line of his own - and in crossing it, can he ever go back?

'Brilliantly crafted. Unflinching yet sensitive, this is a dark story expertly told' Daily Mail

'A tremendous piece of writing, sad and terrifying. It keeps you reading, exhausted and blurry-eyed, until 2am' Independent on Sunday

'Resolutely unsensational but disquieting . . . Barker probes not only the mysteries of 'evil' but society's horrified and incoherent response to it' Guardian

'Rich, challenging, surprising, breathtaking' The Times

Pat Barker was born in 1943. Her books include the highly acclaimed Regeneration trilogy, comprising Regeneration, which has been filmed, The Eye in the Door, which won the Guardian Fiction Prize, and The Ghost Road, which won the Booker Prize. The trilogy featured the Observer's 2012 list of the ten best historical novels. She is also the author of the more recent novels Another World, Border Crossing, Double Vision, Life Class, and Toby's Room. She lives in Durham.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (4 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140270744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140270747
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 138,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pat Barker's books include Union Street (1982), winner of the 1983 Fawcett Prize, which has been filmed as "Stanley and Iris"; Blow Your House Down (1984); Liza's England (1986), formerly The Century's Daughter; The Man Who Wasn't There (1989); Another World; Border Crossing; and the highly acclaimed Regeneration trilogy, comprising Regeneration, The Eye in The Door, winner of the 1993 Guardian Fiction Prize, and The Ghost Road, winner of the 1995 Booker Prize for Fiction. Her latest novel is Life Class.

Barker's powerful early novels Union Street (Virago) and Blow Your House Down (Virago) memorable books celebrating the individuality of the lives of 'ordinary' women. After this the focus of her writing shifted slightly and her Regeneration trilogy was widely praised for its astute and unflinching portrayal of issues of violence, sexuality and class against the backdrop of World War One. The violence of the First World War also coloured the backdrop of Pat Barker's next novel, Another World, which looked at its effects on following generations and this theme is picked up again in Border Crossing.

Pat Barker was born in Thornaby-on-Tees in 1943. She was educated at the London School of Economics and has been a teacher of history and politics. She lives in Durham.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Border Crossing is haunted by one of the most disturbing figures in contemporary English culture: the child who kills. The award-winning Regeneration trilogy established Pat Barker's reputation as a novelist able to revive the traumas of war at the beginning of the 20th century. But her most recent fiction (Another World and, now, Border Crossing) revisits the terrain of her first novels (Union Street, Blow Your House Down). The dismal, if commonplace, violence of family life, violence between husbands and wives, fathers and children, children and children is explored alongside the more sensational story of a young man, Danny, whom, tracking down the psychologist who helped to convict him for the murder he committed as a child, wants to "talk about how impossible it was to leave the past behind". A tense, and seductive, relation develops between Danny and Tom Seymour, a professional forced to make his own return to a past in which he has played a defining part in someone else's life. As the brutal details of Danny's crime emerge, Barker confronts the possibilities of cure through time, through speech, through the attention given by one man to another. Danny is a man who is "very, very good at getting people to step across that invisible border", a character who draws attention to the pain, and helplessness, of having been a child. But Border Crossing also refuses to lose sight of his victim. The mutilated body of Lizzie Parks makes a claim on Danny, on Barker and on her readers as this novel probes the relation between Danny and Tom for the "only possible good outcome" of an irreparable act. --Vicky Lebeau --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"It's her canny feel for the psyche's ambiguous meanderings, more than plot twists, that generates most of the thrills . . . This author creates an atmosphere of menace worthy of a Joyce Carol Oates."—Dan Cryer, "Newsday" "Barker soars to new heights with this harrowing, contemporary study of fate tainted by the stench of evil."—Robert Allen Papinchak, "USA Today" "Barker creates a sense of menace worth of Ian McEwan . . . "Border Crossing" is replete with sharp, expressive exchanges, hard poetry, and as many enigmas as implacable truths."—Kerry Field, "The Atlantic Monthly" "Barker writes with compelling urgency—"Border Crossing" is to be read in one sitting."—Joan Mellen, "The Baltimore Sun" "Exhilerating moral exploration, and prose as naked and jolting as an unwrapped live wire."—Richard Eder, "The New York Times Book Review" "Pat barker understands the dynamics of psychic and shutdown as well as any writer living . . . In "Bo

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They were walking along the river path, away from the city, and as far as they knew they were alone. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, disturbing book 27 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This is the only one of Pat Barker's modern day books that I've really loved - not quite as much as the regeneration trilogy, but almost. One of her great talents is to draw characters who are wholly sympathetic without being wholly, or perhaps even slightly, admirable. Barker manipulates the reader's opinion of Danny, the child-murderer, cleverly, so that he is experienced as distressed and suicidal adult, abused child, cold and manipulative teenager. We experience Danny in the same way many of the book's characters do; knowing that he is an expert at drawing people in and winning their sympathy, yet being drawn in anyway. This keeps you off-balance, at one moment frightened for Danny and at the next frightened of him. The narrative has a wonderful simplicity and lightness of touch, so that the potentially lurid subject matter comes across as low-key and quietly disturbing. I read it in a couple of hours, and have been rereading parts of it ever since. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant study of a child who murdered 25 Nov 2003
By ghandibob VINE VOICE
If you’ve ever watched The Simpsons and seen a joke unfold in front of you that is so brilliant in its both its conception and delivery, but not actually laughed out loud, instead stared at the TV and appreciated the technical perfection, your mind saying "That is the funniest thing I have ever seen", then I think you will understand a little the emotional response of reading Pat Barker’s extraordinary 'Border Crossing'.
Which is not to say Barker’s novel is a comedy. Far from it. It is a tight, discomforting, sometimes thrilling novel that investigates an important idea that is so often discussed in newspapers, though rarely with the degree of cool intelligence that Barker shows here. If you like Ian McKewan, I imagine you will also like Barker. She writes concisely, never wasting an idea, a thought, a plot shift, or a nuance in the telling of this inquisitively psychological novel.
Danny is a young man who was convicted of murder as a child. He is now free, living under an different name, trying to find a way to exist in a world that would see him lynched, if the images in newspapers like the 'Mail' told the full story. Tom Seymour is the psychologist who interviewed Danny at the time of the murder and crucially gave the evidence that saw him convicted under the disturbing categorisation of having full cognisance of what he was doing. Though not a teenager, Danny was well aware that killing was wrong, Seymour posits, and this is something that Danny has had to come to terms with while locked away.
The story begins with Seymour walking by a river in the winter and spotting a young man fall in. This young man, who he dives in to rescue, turns out to be Danny, and the meeting precipitates a renewal of their relationship.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Regeneration" revamped 7 Feb 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When child psychologist Tom Seymour pulls a would-be suicide from a river, he recognises the young man as Danny Miller, the child whom Tom's assessment had helped imprison for the brutal murder of an old woman thirteen years ago. Now out of prison and supposedly starting a new life, Danny has hunted Tom down in the hope that he might be able to help him understand the killing. With his own life troubled and his marriage collapsing, Tom succumbs to the temptation to travel into Danny's past.
The problem is that what he finds there is not particularly riveting, and certainly not unusual enough to account for an act which society regards with horror as completely beyond the boundaries of “normality”. Unlike, say, Peter Shaffer’s “Equus”, when Danny finally remembers the murder there is little depth, no sense of climax, no sense of a mystery unravelled, not even much horror. The novel sets up the idea of a journey into the mind of an outcast, the child who kills, but never lives up to what it promises.
The second problem is the characterisation. Danny Miller is a pale reworking of Billy Prior, Barker’s brilliant creation in “Regeneration”, complete with Prior’s unpleasant father, manipulative charm and “wintry smile”, but nowhere near as interesting (especially once you recognise him as Prior). Tom isn’t even a shadow of “Regeneration”’s Dr Rivers, and there is even less substance to the supporting cast, his wife, his colleagues, and the people whose lives Danny has passed through.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing study of human psychology 9 Nov 2007
By Helen Simpson VINE VOICE
To what extent can a child can be held responsible for their actions? Can they change? Do they deserve a second chance?

Tom, a psychologist encounters Danny, who was his patient as a child and at whose trial he gave evidence. Although Danny has served his time, he is haunted by the past and by a crime he still hasn't come to terms with committing.
Tom has his own problems, and Danny fills a void as his marriage comes to an end. However whilst wanting to help, Tom's concerned that Danny may be manipulating him as he may have manipulated others in his life.

The events that make Danny feel hunted were conveyed well, showing how almost impossible it is to make a new start in our society. I also felt Tom's empathy with Danny was very realistic and honest. He recalls an event from his own childhood that he feels would have ended differently if it weren't for the intervention of an adult. Sometimes we're quick to condemn and forget what being a child was like, how sometimes children can get into situations they don't know how to get out of.

Rather than giving us all the answers in neat little story we're encouraged to come to our own conclusions which made for a more interesting read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars e-book
Great novel but don't buy the kindle version which is so full of typos it's really distracting. The most memorable being "the ham on the nape of his neck stood up"! Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ms C Milner
5.0 out of 5 stars The other side of the horrifying
A great example of Pat Barker at her best. It isn't what is said but what isn't said that makes this book such compulsive reading. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Arvadal
4.0 out of 5 stars Shamefully let down by Kindle
Pat Barker is always sure to deliver an excellent read, but this isn't her best. The plot is fast-paced and hugely interesting but characterisation isn't as convincing or detailed... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Wakey Girl
4.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Psychological Thriller
A fairly short novel of just over 200 pages, but I found it extremely hard to put down. There are some really important issues addressed within the story - mainly centred on how... Read more
Published on 28 Feb 2009 by Lincs Reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing but thought provoking
This was quite a tense, emotional read. A child murderer bares his soul to a psychologist - yet in the end we are left to draw our own conclusions as to Danny's true character and... Read more
Published on 28 Oct 2007 by DubaiReader
5.0 out of 5 stars Very matter of fact
This was a great book to read and quite chilling but in a very calm manner. Tom Seymour unthinkily pulls a suicide victim out of the river; it turns out he is a child murderer who... Read more
Published on 16 Aug 2007 by SJSmith
4.0 out of 5 stars Unusual, well-written, thought-provoking page-turner.
Border Crossing deals with a very unusual subject, and I found the "talking heads" approach to the storyline very appealing. Read more
Published on 14 Jan 2006
2.0 out of 5 stars Left me disappointed
The start of the book seemed to offer so much when two characters, who had dealings in the distant past, crossed paths. Read more
Published on 2 Dec 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Barker in provocative and thoughtful mode
This is a somewhat darker and more thoughtful novel from Pat Barker, something that is essential reading for all of those interested in childcare and adolescents. Read more
Published on 5 July 2003 by Andrew Howell
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