- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 56 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Penguin Books Limited
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 31 July 2014
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00LVMPT66
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
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Toby's Room Audiobook – Unabridged
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Top customer reviews
This novel does get across the awful limbo in which the relatives of those soldiers missing presumed dead are trapped; sometimes waiting forever for closure.
My problem with Toby's Room is I found it really difficult to care about the characters with the possible exception of Kit Neville, who for me is far and away the most interesting and human person in the book.
It was interesting to read of the real-life character Professor Tonks, a noted surgeon and artist, who taught at the Slade School at the time. Tonks played his part in the reconstructive surgery carried out by doctors on soldiers returning from the front with hugely disfiguring facial wounds. He painted portraits of the victims' facial injuries and these portraits were, unsurprisingly, shocking. Pat Barker has interweaved real-life characters throughout other novels and it is something she does very well.
I would encourage others to read this book as it has a lot to offer but, failing to evoke in the reader, any empathy towards most of the main characters is, in my opinion, where Pat Barker falls short. Still I did like the bitter curmudgeon Kit Neville!
There are some surprising revelations in this story which I have no wish to spoil for prospective readers, so I shall be careful here - to help her piece together Toby's last days and hours, Elinor enlists the help of Paul Tarrant and also their friend, Kit Neville, who has been tragically and severely facially disfigured at the front and is being treated at Queen Mary's Hospital in Sidcup. This part of the novel is particularly interesting, as it is at Queen Mary's that Henry Tonks works with Dr. Harry Gillies and his team as they develop pioneering approaches to reconstructing facial injuries sustained by soldiers fighting at the front, and Pat Barker's writing of this is detailed, sensitive and very involving. As we read through the story we discover that although those around Toby think they knew him, there were parts of his life that they knew nothing about at all. Toby's hidden life and of how he meets his death is finally revealed to the reader in a rather dramatic and crucial scene - but I shall leave the detail for prospective readers to discover for themselves.
When I first read the title to this novel, it immediately made me think of Virginia Woolf's 'Jacob's Room' (which was inspired by Woolf's brother Thoby) and there is a similarity in that with Jacob and with Toby we mostly get to know them through the minds of the other characters in the story; but the content of this novel and Pat Barker's writing style is quite different to Virginia Woolf's. I enjoyed Barker's last novel which, like 'Toby's Room', examines the role of art and artists in a time of conflict and I was very much looking forward to the arrival of this new book which does not disappoint. I find Pat Barker's writing direct, insightful and perceptively observed and this novel, like many of her books, has a strong narrative drive; I read this story in one sitting and found it a very compelling and thought-provoking read about art and identity, love and loyalty, intolerance and discrimination and about the brutal and far-reaching consequences of war.
The writing is subtle, perceptive, and moving fleshed out with a dry even cruel humour. I was a little disappointed with the conclusion of this trilogy in Noonday, but this installment is superb.
Most recent customer reviews
This one is excellent