The Ghost Road, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


The Ghost Road is the final installment 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). Other titles in the trilogy: Regeneration, and, The Eye in the Door.




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The third chapter in the <i>Regeneration</i> trilogy, and another powerful, moving, gripping look into Dr. River’s past, and the effects of WWI on his patients. As with <i>The Eye in the Door</i> we follow Billy Prior as much as Rivers (and, again, glimpses of other current cases in River’s London practice); this time we follow Prior back to France (where he fights alongside Wilfred Owen), and much of his story is given in diary excerpts. Rivers, meanwhile, having caught a flu with accompanying fever, reminisces – or perhaps it is more accurate to say ‘relives’ – his time with an African head-hunting tribe whose collective zest for life has deteriorated with the British ‘intervention’ into their proclivities. The trend of examining the way the mind processes the harrowing results of guilt, shame, horror, fear - of memory itself - continues to this reader’s great absorption and fascination. I think this is the strongest of the three books, or perhaps I have become more invested in Barker’s Dr. Rivers and his patients over the course of reading the previous two; I remember being as impressed with Barker’s writing in the other two – she really is a wordsmith, a character forger, and approaches her subject with the utmost respect, humour and a real quest for understanding. Regardless, this is an important trilogy and each book should be read, digested, considered and loved on its own meritsThese three books form the cornerstones of my reading year, and I recommend them to anyone whose interests in literature include war, mental health, sexuality, historical or biographical fiction of any kind, or indeed anyone who relishes characters so strongly portrayed that they could have been acting out their lives in your room while you were reading.

Review by

After the triumph of 'The Eye in the Door', I wondered where Pat Barker could go to avoid writing a workmanlike finale; the answer is: abroad. The story takes our characters to France at the end of the First World War, and we follow their ill-fated adventures there; we also go back into the psychiatrist Rivers's life, and learn of his experiences in the tropics, working as an anthropologist. The juxtaposition works excellently.

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