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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Healthy and Unhealthy Mind Dualities Driven by War Tragedies and Paranoia
If you haven't read Regeneration, you are making a big mistake if you read The Eye in the Door before Regeneration. Regeneration sets the stage for The Eye in the Door and provides much background information that you need to appreciate this book.

Those who liked the first book in the Regeneration trilogy, Regeneration, will absolutely adore The Eye in the...
Published on 29 April 2008 by Donald Mitchell

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't make the mistake
I made the mistake of not paying attention to the statement on the cover that The Eye in the Door is the second book in the Regeneration Trilogy. Other trilogies I have read are much more interesting if the books in the trilogy are read in the right order, but generally each book stands on its own. Going by other reviewers, The Eye in the Door is enjoyable if it is read...
Published 5 months ago by Discerning Reader


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Healthy and Unhealthy Mind Dualities Driven by War Tragedies and Paranoia, 29 April 2008
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eye In The Door : (Paperback)
If you haven't read Regeneration, you are making a big mistake if you read The Eye in the Door before Regeneration. Regeneration sets the stage for The Eye in the Door and provides much background information that you need to appreciate this book.

Those who liked the first book in the Regeneration trilogy, Regeneration, will absolutely adore The Eye in the Door. The characters from Regeneration return, and you have a chance to find out the consequences of the treatments they received from Dr. William Rivers in Regeneration. Pat Barker builds on the tensions, damage, doubts, and despair of mid-World War I to show how much more desperate matters were for the British by the spring of 1918.

In developing these themes, Pat Barker does a masterful job of explaining how a soldier has to operate both by emotion and by objective distance in order to function. From there, she helps us use the crucible of war to see how that duality is important to everyday functioning for all people.

As the title indicates, the book builds on a central metaphor of everyone being under observation as doubts build about Britain's ability to win the war. Those on the margins are most under pressure and at greatest risk.

I thought that the portrayal of Lieutenant Billy Prior was brilliant. He comes across as the kind of complex, interesting character that can help us learn a lot about Ms. Barker's messages for us. The eye metaphor is nicely developed in the context of Billy's life.

Brava, Ms. Barker!
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Pat, 2 Aug. 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Eye In The Door : (Paperback)
I am writing this in response to the only other review of this book so far, which I do not think does the novel justice. All right, some of "The Eye in the Door" is "brutal and dark" - Pat Barker's books usually do have that element - but what I find so impressive about this novelist is how she manages to deal with difficult, and sometimes unpleasant, subjects in a way that is intelligent, compassionate and unsensational. Her books also have a streak of dry humour running through them that keep them becoming all doom and gloom like a Thomas Hardy novel. And yes, Prior's character is 'flawed" - (whose isn't?) - and sometimes difficult to like, but he seems real and human, and it is impossible not to sympathise with him sometimes, particularly given the courage with which he confronts his situations (not to mention the scalding sense of humour and irony.) Maybe "Regeneration" seems a "cleaner" novel, with characters it is easier to admire or like or pity, but I thought this one continued the tradition of amazingly powerful writing and is definitely worth a read, not just as part of the trilogy, but for its own sake.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "He was a neurologist. He knew exactly what shrapnel and bullets do to the brain.", 29 Nov. 2013
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eye in the Door (Paperback)
This is the sequel to Regeneration, and is the second book in the trilogy which won Pat Barker the Booker Prize. It is an account of the waste and pity of war; a down to earth tale of Billy Prior, an officer, but not quite a gentleman, who sails insouciantly through life, getting whatever pleasure he can. Pat Barker pulls no punches and as a result there are moments when one might not exactly approve of his conduct. Prior's perspective on events is essential to understand the pressures that bore down upon those invalided out of battle. He has spells when he `blacks out' and his dislocated experiences disorient and alarm him. He works in the Munitions office and spent some time being treated by Dr Rivers of Craiglockhart Hospital near Edinburgh, but is now employed in the Intelligence Corps, though his position is by no means secure.

Prior is working on a case featuring a woman, Beattie Roper who has been imprisoned because she was suspected of trying to poison Lloyd George and there is a very instructive Author's Note at the end which details the real life case of Alice Wheeldon who was convicted of the crime of attempted murder. (The book Friends of Alice Wheeldon, by Sheila Rowbotham contains a useful essay on Rebel Networks in the First World War). Also mentioned in the book is the real-life High Court Trial of Pemberton Billing, which reflects some of the madness propagated by Harold Spencer, who was later incarcerated in an asylum.

The authenticity of this novel sings off the page and the dialogue is a work of marvellous veracity and darkness. The atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion is marvellously created as the citizens of London grapple for their own sanity in a dangerous world. It comes highly recommended by virtue of its authenticity alone. There are sections given over to the events surrounding the poet Seigfried Sassoon, who made a stand against the war in 1917and was also treated by Rivers at Craiglockhart Hospital.

Character creation is superb throughout. I would give this book six stars if I could, it is a brilliant exposition of dualities in the mind and the terrors of wartime existence. It is totally gripping and engaging and comes very highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The mental pressures of war..., 6 Jun. 2011
By 
C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eye in the Door (Paperback)
Unlike Regeneration, which can function as a stand-alone novel quite apart from its place as the first in the trilogy, I think both the subsequent books require the knowledge of the characters and the circumstances that comes with Regeneration. Billy Prior, who has somewhat of a secondary role in Regeneration, as opposed to Rivers and Sassoon, takes centre stage this time, and despite being one of the few fictional characters in this trilogy, is arguably the most fascinating.

Prior is a working-class officer, working in Intelligence when he longs to be back at the Front, investigating anti-war pacifists, most of whom he grew up with as a child, bisexual, neither fish nor fowl and the strains of this shatter his psyche and he suffers from memory lapses, blackouts and even a split personality. He's a wonderful, brittle, hard-edged character, eminently memorable, and a heartbreaking example of the inner wounds war can inflict on even the strongest of characters.

Many people make the mistake of thinking of this trilogy as a 'war trilogy' and that does it a disservice, almost. It's so much more. The Western Front only makes a physical appearance in the final novel - this is a trilogy about the mental scars of war, about the pressures of government and politics during war, about the evolution of mental health care, about sexuality and national pride. I think this is my favourite book of the trilogy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't make the mistake, 4 Sept. 2014
This review is from: The Eye in the Door (Paperback)
I made the mistake of not paying attention to the statement on the cover that The Eye in the Door is the second book in the Regeneration Trilogy. Other trilogies I have read are much more interesting if the books in the trilogy are read in the right order, but generally each book stands on its own. Going by other reviewers, The Eye in the Door is enjoyable if it is read after the first book in the trilogy.

I am assuming this was one of the reasons why I had to give up reading the book. The other was that the pages I read, apart from the first chapter, appeared to be dull, and bitty and much as I tried, I found no enjoyment in reading the book and gave up. Maybe other readers will find it more pleasurable if they read the three books in order. But for me the style was disjointed and it was difficult to form any picture of the focus of the book and where we might be heading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant writing, 9 Jun. 2013
By 
M. Powys-lybbe (Devon, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eye in the Door (Paperback)
All three books of the regeneration trilogy (of which this is the second) are the best things I have read for a very long time. Pat Barker has this gift of making you want to read on, long after you know you should have been asleep. Also you learn you can trust her: she is describing some appalling things but manages to do so in such a way that you grasp the essence of the experience without vomiting or even being thoroughly upset. With it all there is an amazing sense of wisdom behind it all, much of this due to the character of Dr. Rivers, whose deep compassion and humanity manages to pervade all three books. I defy anyone not to learn from these books, not to be a better person after reading them. Pat Barker is a genius. The writing is simple, straightforward, without tricks or vanity, it just rings true. And it is so interesting you just cannot put it down
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars tough-minded debate-novel about sexuality and national pride, 27 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Eye In The Door : (Paperback)
Reading the trilogy as a gay man I was struck and impressed by Barker's handling of her largely male cast, in particular Billy Prior. She writes convicingly about men and masculinity. In the opening scene she writes the most erotic and unpretentious sex scene between two men that I have ever read (bar the description of a kiss in Baldwin's Giovanni's Room). Incidentally I do feel Billy Prior is an appealing figure in his flawed humanity. More importantly he is a great anti-hero. With his anger, intelligence, working-class background and bisexuality he represents a brilliant anti-establishment challenge to everything the war he fought claimed to defend.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The impact of the trilogy is greater than any one book, 24 Jan. 2015
By 
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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The second book in Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy begins with the author revealing Billy Prior, known to the reader from the first book, Regeneration, to be bisexual. This emphasises that it may not be suitable for all readers and the importance of reading the trilogy in sequence. Prior, still being treated by the psychologist WHR Rivers for the mental disorders brought on by his experiences of trench warfare, has improved to the extent that he is now out of the Craiglockhart military hospital and able to work for the Ministry of Munitions.

Barker's style is to mix fact and fiction, and to compare and contrast the effect of the war on the life of Londoners and those living in the North, of the general public, combatants and those who actively or passively opposed the war. It opens in London a few months after the close of the first book. Prior is experiencing `fugue states' after which he can remember nothing of what he might have done. He becomes convinced that, during one such period, he betrayed a pacifist friend to the Ministry of Munitions Intelligence Unit.

The author's research is very effectively presented in descriptions of the diverse activities of the Ministry, life in prisons, the treatment of conscientious objectors and the `tramway' of supporters that helps such pacifists reach the security of Ireland, antagonism towards homosexuals and - of course - the treatment and fate of Rivers' patients. Rivers himself comes across as a much more complex character than in Restoration whilst Siegfried Sassoon once again appears and gives voice to the contrasting emotions of enjoying the camaraderie of leadership in the field and believing that senior military officials are unconcerned with the slaughter they control.

Barker is also very good at illustrating the endemic class system that was further accentuated by the war. Prior, a working class boy, is able to move seamlessly through the differing strands of society as exemplified by his relationship with Charles Manning, an officer who is comfortable talking with Churchill, and school friends from the impoverished north that retains its 19th-century character. As the book progresses we learn about Prior's upbringing and the events that have determined his character and attitudes. Barker shows the intensity of the psychological pressures that impact on him from his official duties of dealing with pacifist groups and his personal friendship with many of those he and his colleagues are called on to capture and betray.

The attack on male and females homosexuals who were seen by politicians and media as a German-supported `enemy from within' who sought to weaken English spirit by leading them down `the path of Sodom'. The deaths of soldiers of all classes in France are contrasted with the efforts expended by the authorities to monitor and arrest those supporting Maud Allen's production of Oscar Wilde's Salome and to build up lunatics like Harold Spencer who believed in the danger the country faced from `women who had hypertrophied and diseased clitorises, and therefore could be satisfied only by bull elephants.`

The title of the book is explained in the novel that continues Barker's exploration of the many-layered impact of war on the minds of combatants. The events marking the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War should see renewed interest in this trilogy that is much more than the sum of its individual books, 9/10.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Touching and compelling sequel of broken men and a disunited home front, 11 Feb. 2014
This review is from: The Eye in the Door (Paperback)
It’s 1918 and Billy Prior is working for the intelligence unit in the Ministry of Munitions. He’s supposed to catch Conchies who help deserters to flee to Ireland but he’s more interested in overturning the conviction of his former neighbour, Beattie Roper, who’s been sentenced to 10 years in jail for plotting to kill Lloyd George. When the stress of trying to prove it causes him to start losing time (just as he did in France), Prior resumes seeing the army psychiatrist William Rivers and is once more forced to confront truths he doesn’t want to deal with ...

Pat Barker’s sequel to REGENERATION is another deftly written historical novel that again draws on the psychological horrors of World War I but this time combining it with what was happening on the home front, notably drawing on the real life case of Alice Wheeldon (a Suffragette and atheist who was convicted of plotting to murder Lloyd George) and the real Pemberton Billing libel case that alleged there to be 47,000 homosexuals working for Germany to bring down Britain. It’s a beautifully written novel that goes deeper into Prior and Rivers’s psychology and personal history and I thoroughly enjoyed the home front setting, which continues the themes in REGENERATION but gives more of a sense of the conflict within. Like REGENERATION though, I did find some of the characters samey and in building on REGENERATION it also repeats some of the themes although this didn’t affect my enjoyment and I will definitely read the conclusion.

Billy Prior takes central stage, caught between his homosexuality and love for Sarah (who appears in a short scene), his loyalty to his friends and his duty to his country. The explanation for his homosexuality was a little clichéd (albeit it ties in with his class issues as well) but his scenes with Rivers carry the same spark as in REGENERATION. There’s more here to of Rivers and his work before the War and his work now in London’s military hospital. Less successful is Captain Manning, a married man whose friendship with known homosexuals threatens to compromise his own position in the Ministry of War but whose storyline doesn’t really go anywhere.

Ultimately, the sadness and sense of broken men trying to make sense of their world really moved me and I will definitely be reading the conclusion to the trilogy.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another Worthy Episode In Barker's WW1 Trilogy, 17 Dec. 2012
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Eye in the Door (Paperback)
This 1993 novel is the second in Pat Barker's trilogy (preceded by Regeneration and followed by The Ghost Road) depicting the physical and psychological effects of World War 1. In The Eye In The Door, Barker continues to mix fact and fiction (continuing to feature her character 'based on' poet Siegfried Sassoon, along with neurologist Dr William Rivers), but (when compared to Regeneration) here develops more of an obviously fictional narrative, focusing particularly on the life experiences of Bobby Prior, a young war combatant, whose traumatic experiences and class consciousness have led to his disillusion with the war.

Set in London, the novel follows Prior's exploits, now working for the Ministry of Munitions in an 'intelligence role', taking in visits to a woman (the mother of an ex-girlfriend) imprisoned for harbouring conchies (war objectors) and secret liaisons with homosexuals following his 'mental lapses'. Indeed, one of Barker's principal preoccupations in the novel is the vilification with which homosexuals (male and female) were treated during this period, including reference to the real-life Pemberton Billing (a right-wing MP) court case, whose beliefs included the fantastic conspiracy theory that the Germans were attempting to undermine the British war effort by luring 47,000 prominent figures into homosexual practices.

Barker's writing is, in the main, subtle, affecting, funny and poignant, particularly in dealing with the anxieties and dilemmas being suffered by Prior, but my overall feeling is that her characterisations could be developed more deeply (perhaps over a longer novel than these 280 pages) to achieve still greater impact on the reader.
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The Eye in the Door
The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker (Paperback - 1 May 2008)
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