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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

1 May 2008

The Ghost Road is the final instalment in Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy.

WINNER OF THE 1995 BOOKER PRIZE.

1918, the closing months of the war. Army psychiatrist William Rivers is increasingly concerned for the men who have been in his care - particularly Billy Prior, who is about to return to combat in France with young poet Wilfred Owen. As Rivers tries to make sense of what, if anything, he has done to help these injured men, Prior and Owen await the final battles in a war that has decimated a generation ...

The Ghost Road is the Booker Prize-winning account of the devastating final months of the First World War.

'An extraordinary tour de force. I'm convinced that the trilogy will win recognition as one of the few real masterpieces of late twentieth-century British fiction' Jonathan Coe

'Powerful, deeply moving' Barry Unsworth, Sunday Times

'Harrowing, original, unforgettable' Independent

'A triumph' Sunday 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 (1 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014103095X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141030951
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 12.5 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,413 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)

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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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A huge, limitless book 16 Sep 2001
Format:Paperback
The field of First World War novels may be a crowded one, but in 'The Ghost Road', Pat Barker is by no means overshadowed. Her subtle blending of fact and fiction allows her to convey every aspect of the war effectively from two perspectives: the psychological impact of it on those deeply involved, and wider view: how it affected social and mental barriers, inciting probing questions into the value of our own morality.
On the surface, we are presented with a seemingly straightforward negative account of the war, most prolifically in its impact on the two central characters, Prior and Rivers, who serve as the focus for the narrative throughout the book (the latter stages even being told directly from Prior's diary entries). However, upon a deeper reading, endless social judgements emerge, directed against every aspect of our society, along with predictable passes at the class system, which allowed the upper classes, and in particular, aristocratic army generals to distance themseves from the suffering endured by the men. Barker cleverly utilises a complex narrative which in itself would satisfy a reader, and saturates it with ambiguous, apparently descriptive yet deeply symbolic references, to the deepest political and philosophical issues.
Despite these being perhaps cliched themes, especially so considering the context, they are presented in such a way that makes them have a powerful impact on the reader, the sustained flatly harrowing tone, one of almost casual sadism, being as intriguing as it is grotesque. The opening line: 'In deck chairs all along the front the bald pink knees of Bradford businessmen nuzzled the sun' demonstrates this, the symbolism inherent here indicative of the way Barker starts as she means to go on.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A study of casual violence 16 July 2012
By Stewart M TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I may have made a mistake by reading this book without first having read the others in what I now I understand to be a trilogy. However, I doubt if I am alone in having done this - so I will continue with the review.

The book is set in the final stages of WW I and follows the lives William Rivers - a psychiatrist - and two of his patients - the poet Wilfred Owen and Billy Prior. Interlaced with these stories are recollections from Rivers of his time as an anthropologist.

The general arc of the story is not unpredictable, with the fate of Owen being too well known to come as a surprise or a shock. What does come through is the fatalism that holds sway over many of the characters within the book - they have seen too much already not to know the truth of the war. In this way many of the things they do feel like the preparations for death - and this seems be the link to the anthropological memories of rivers. What we are witnessing in the war and on the tropical islands are the rituals of death.

The story deals with the casual barbarity of the war on a psychological rather than physical level, and is all the more troubling for that approach. This casual indifference also seems to pervade all the references made to sex within the book, with most being depicted as unequal power relationships about revenge or humiliation. I suppose my surprise at these sections could have been heightened by not reading the other books in the series, but I doubt it.

Overall, this is an interesting investigation of people who have been forced to stare into the abyss of human violence. But in the end I found the inevitability of the plot distracting.

Recommended, but with a few reservations.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 7 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 15 days ago by Ann Heather Nash
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
excellent read
Published 20 days 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 1 month ago by Chris McKeefry
5.0 out of 5 stars WW1Trilogy
So insightful & thought provoking.
Published 1 month 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 3 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 4 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 4 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 6 months ago by I Read, Therefore I Blog
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