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The Ghost Road [Paperback]

Pat Barker
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Mar 1996
This novel, set during the First World War, is about Sarah, a young girl working in a munitions factory, and on Wilfred Owen.


Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 Mar 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140257799
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140257793
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.9 x 1.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,250,247 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

Review

An extraordinary tour de force. I'm convinced that the trilogy will win recognition as one of the few real masterpieces of late 20th-century British fiction (Jonathan Coe) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

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. Prior experiences a late-summer idyll, some days of perfect beauty, before the final battles in a war that has destroyed most of his generation. In London, Prior's psychologist, William Rivers, tends to his new patients, more young men whose lives and minds have been shattered. And remembers the primitive society on Eddystone Island where he studied as an anthropologist before the war. Gathering together both experiences, he sees the gulf between them narrow… Challenging and harrowing, brilliantly incisive yet always compassionate, Pat Barker's Booker Prize winning novel is magnificent listening.

Other Pat Barker titles available from HarperCollinsAudioBooks: 'Regeneration' and 'The Eye in the Door'

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The weakest part of the Regeneration Trilogy 5 Feb 2011
By Ian Shine VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy begins with 1991's 'Regeneration', is followed by 1993's 'The Eye in the Door' and ends with 'The Ghost Road' in 1995. I read them back-to-back in 2011 and, even though I expected the trilogy to improve on the phenomenal start it made with 'Regeneration' - considering 'The Eye in the Door' won the Guardian Fiction Prize and 'The Ghost Road' won the Booker Prize while `Regeneration didn't win any prizes - I found it actually became less engaging and less focused with each book, particularly with the final book.
All three books are set during World War I. 'Regeneration' focuses on the war poet Siegfried Sassoon as he recovers from shell-shock in a war hospital in Scotland and is treated by Dr Rivers (who is the main character throughout the trilogy); 'The Eye in the Door' is based more on life in the UK during the war, looking at the issues facing homosexual men and those sheltering deserters and/or pacifists; while 'The Ghost Road' sees Billy Prior, a soldier who was in the war hospital in 'Regeneration' and involved heavily in 'The Eye in the Door', return to the war front. This final book is split between Prior's accounts of the war, Dr Rivers's work in a war hospital and Rivers's flashbacks/recollections of his early anthropological studies among a tribal culture.
The main themes binding the books are the sense of futility and hopelessness that drove soldiers to insanity; the emasculating effects of being stuck in a trench (or any place) where you are ordered to do things and have your fate taken out of your own hands.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ghost Road 7 Jan 2009
Format:Paperback
This novel proves to be an illuminating trilogy based on the First World War and on real people and events. Barker succeeds in telling a harrowing and horrifying story through the eyes of Prior, a soldier in the war and through the eyes of Rivers, an army psychiatrist. Prior's story is based equally on his past and the present, where we see him admitted to a psychiatric hospital as a result of his experiences yet ultimately committing himself to lead others much like himself `over the top' to face enemy fire. Additionally, we follow the life of Rivers who devotes his life to treating injured and psychotic soldiers, unveiling their experiences and nightmares in order to restore them back to sanity. Furthermore, a fair majority of Rivers' story is dedicated to his past experiences of staying on an island in Africa where he witnessed `foreign' rituals and procedures and made many strange encounters.

The way in which the events in the story follow on from one another can be confusing as you have to be able to distinguish stories from the past and present and also between the four different stories that are being depicted. If you are familiar with the different characters and the roles in which they play throughout, this novel is a much easier read.

Nevertheless, Barker dares to write about the truth of war, which at times horrifies and shocks. Her novel captures our sympathy by the use of vivid description and she does not hold back on her exploration of the experiences of the men who served in the war. In all, Barkers novel is an excellent, eye-opening addition to that of other war literature and I would recommend the novel to all who wish to read an original and unforgettable outlook on the war.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Winner of the Booker Prize in 1995 and then shortlisted for the Booker Prize's 40th Anniversary `Best of the Booker' in 2008, Pat Barker's `The Ghost Road' is the third book of her Regeneration trilogy. It was the `Best of the Booker' nomination that finally brought me to read this book and I did so without having read the previous works in the trilogy, `Regeneration' and `The Eye in the Door'. My advice would of course be to read `The Ghost Road' third but this book can stand alone although one misses out on the main characters's histories and therefore some of their depth.

Set in 1918 during the final months of the Great War `The Ghost Road' follows the last journey to France of Lt Billy Prior who previously has returned from France three times, once with shell shock. It is as a result of this condition that he found himself in the care of Army psychiatrist William Rivers. Rivers continues to care for the young men evacuated from the front with devastating mental illness and brain injuries throughout the novel and considers how if at all he has helped those like Prior who have now been declared to fight again. As he works with these patients he remembers his days as a young anthropologist with the tribes of island communities.

Pat Barker is an author in complete control. She shows the devastation of the World War pointedly rather than overwhelm with the reader with loss one cannot comprehend. Her characters are perfectly human and are described starkly, from their sexual encounters through their illnesses to their own deaths or the deaths around them. The juxtaposition of the violence in Europe with the savage simplicity of the tribesmen is superb and allows the author to explore violence, death and faith from two very different stand points.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 25 days ago by emba
5.0 out of 5 stars world war 1 remembered
The whole trilogy is a 5

Particularly poignant reading it on the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ann Heather Nash
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
excellent read
Published 1 month ago by B. Whitehead
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
posted as advertised and on time
Published 1 month ago by alhaze
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent
Published 2 months ago by Chris McKeefry
5.0 out of 5 stars WW1Trilogy
So insightful & thought provoking.
Published 2 months ago by Sue Key
2.0 out of 5 stars I didn't enjoy it.
Ok. Where to begin? Let me start by saying that this book wasn't horrible. I didn't absolutely hate it, but as you can probably tell from the 2/10 rating, I didn't really like it... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Hannah Harvey
5.0 out of 5 stars The ghosts are far from quiet on the Western front...
I read The Ghost Road because it won the Booker Prize in 1995, and thus found myself in the third volume of a trilogy without having read the first two books. Read more
Published 5 months ago by John Goddard
5.0 out of 5 stars Touching
Billy Prior's return to the front - very touching and scary story about the men and the conditions they lived and fought a war in. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Per Bech
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving conclusion to the award-winning trilogy
It’s August 1918. Billy Prior and Wilfred Owen have re-enlisted in the army and are waiting to return to the Front. Read more
Published 7 months ago by I Read, Therefore I Blog
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