The Eye in the Door, Paperback
4 out of 5 (6 ratings)


The Eye in the Door is the second novel in Pat Barker's classic Regeneration trilogy.

Winner Of The 1993 Guardian Fiction Prize. London, 1918. Billy Prior is working for Intelligence in the Ministry of Munitions.

But his private encounters with women and men - pacifists, objectors, homosexuals - conflict with his duties as a soldier, and it is not long before his sense of himself fragments and breaks down.

Forced to consult the man who helped him before - army psychiatrist William Rivers - Prior must confront his inability to be the dutiful soldier his superiors wish him to be...The Eye in the Door is a heart-rending study of the contradictions of war and of those forced to live through it. "A new vision of what the First World War did to human beings, male and female, soldiers and civilians." (A S Byatt, Daily Telegraph). "Every bit as waveringly intense and intelligent as its predecessor." (Sunday Times). "Startlingly original...spellbinding." (Sunday Telegraph). "Gripping, moving, profoundly intelligent...bursting with energy and darkly funny." (Independent on Sunday).

Other titles in the trilogy: Regeneration The Ghost Road.




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Showing 1 - 5 of 6 reviews.

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Review by

In this second installment of the Regeneration trilogy, Rivers, Prior and Sassoon return to fight the contemporary climate that says the war is going poorly due to pacifism, homosexuality and general cowardice. I enjoyed this one at least as much as the first--if not more. A rather detailed homosexual act early in the novel may unsettle some readers, but it does not set the tone for the whole book. Definitely recommended.

Review by

The sequel (and second in the trilogy) to Barker’s amazing <i>‘Regeneration’</i>. I only discovered these books recently, and was blown away by the standard of writing and treatment of the issues in <i>Regeneration</i>… <i>The Eye in the Door</i> follows through on this; I get the impression that <i>Eye</i> is based <i>slightly</i> less on biographical fact, though is none-the-less important for that. The theme of homosexuality is addressed more directly in this book, concentrating on River’s patients in England who are dealing with both natural homosexuality and war-induced blurring of sexuality in a time when the citizenry’s reaction to the bonding of soldiers was to crack down ferociously on ‘inappropriate and degrading’ behaviour at home. Threaded through this theme, we follow Prior, whose dual personality threatens to implode under the strain of investigating his childhood friends for harbouring deserters, ‘conchies’ and ‘cowards’. There are so many issues of war woven through Barker’s stories that coming out of each book is rather like emerging from the trenches; or at least from River’s consultation room, where one’s psyche is stripped to the ground. The characters are not real simply because the existed, but because Barker effortlessly breathes complicated, harrowing life into them, leaving the impressively dedicated Rivers to deconstruct neuroses so real and life-sized that they daunt the reader even as we begin to understand the impact of the first world war upon the men who fought it.

Review by

The second book in a series can so often be the best one. The first in a trilogy establishes the characters and the general idea of the plot; the third ties up all the loose ends; but more often than not it's the middle book that carries the most drama, the most uncertainty, and the most shocks. This is certainly true here. 'The Eye in the Door' is, for me, the most interesting of the 'Regeneration' trilogy. I hadn't much enjoyed the first volume and so my expectations were sufficiently low for this book to delight me. It is about the Great War, true, but so much more as well, like freedom of expression and love, and homosexuality in a time when it was still illegal.

Review by

The issue I have with this book, along with the first in the trilogy, is that there appears to be no 'main character'; it jumps between Billy Prior who opens it as the main character, to following Head, Sassoon and any other character that Barker wants to delve deeper into.It also has too may story lines; is it a book about homosexuality in the early 20th century, is it about the effects of WW1, is it a love story, a study in psychology? What is it? There are patterns that link every thing together but it is less of a logical structure more a spiders-web of characters and topics. I really wouldn't know who to recommend the novel to

Review by

I didn't review this at the time of reading (and the time is only a guess). Oh no! Will try to cobble together a general impression. This receives 4 stars only because it is not the pure, unadulterated genius of the first and third books in the series. It is still wonderful, but somehow the story didn't grip me quite as thoroughly. A relatively poor Pat Barker remains, however, an outstanding book, exploring compassionately and minutely, but somehow clearly, human inner conflict--in Billy Prior's case conflict that leads to, or is at the base of, serious affliction.I love Pat Barker's writing, and now that I have finished the Regeneration trilogy I'm looking forward to exploring the rest of her oeuvre.

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