Author: Pat Barker
Source: Bought on Amazon
Excerpt from Goodreads:
In 1917 Siegfried Sasson, noted poet and decorated war hero, publicly refused to continue serving as a British officer in World War I. His reason: The war was a senseless slaughter. He was officially classified “mentally unsound” and sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital. There a brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. William Rivers, set about restoring Sassoon’s “sanity” and sending him back to the trenches. This novel tells what happened as only a novel can. It is a war saga in which not a shot is fired. It is a story of a battle for a man’s mind in which only the reader can decide who is the victor, who the vanquished, and who the victim. It is one of the most amazing feats of fiction of our time. Regeneration is the first novel in Pat Barker’s acclaimed World War I trilogy, which continues with The Eye in the Door and culminates in the 1995 Booker Prize-winning The Ghost Road
I read this book as a requirement for my Literature and War class.
Before I started this book I wasn’t sure what to expect but I assumed there would be lots of war scenes and gore, typical of a war movie. To my surprise, that’s not exactly what I got. I would also like to note that Pat Barker is a women, which was something many of the students in my Literature and War class were unaware of and they said that this knowledge changed the way they viewed the book and some of the characters.
There are a lot of characters in this book. Pat Barker begins conversations between the characters naturally, as if we the audience already know what’s going on. At times it was a bit disorienting and I felt like I needed a play sheet to keep track of all the patients. Once the book got rolling it was easier to keep track of who was who based on their back stories.
Like I mentioned, this book wasn’t simply about war and gore, although a few scenes do come to mind. This novel focused primarily on the effects of war on all the people around it. It looks at the soldiers, the doctors, the women left at home, and the families. This book is written from a few different point of views, but the primary voice is that of Dr. Rivers, a psychiatrist who deals with the worst cases of mental war wounds.
This is the first book in a series, and many of the characters story lines are left open. A few of the more notable characters are Billy Prior, Sassoon, Owens, Dr. Rivers, and Anderson. It is my understanding that the characters in the book were based on real people from WWI. It was really eye opening for me to see how deep the effects of war go and how severely it changes people.
It’s hard for me to give a good review of this book without giving too much away in the spoilers section. I did enjoy this book and I’m happy that I read it. It wasn’t gory, for those of you who have light stomachs, although there are two or three scenes that stand out pretty vividly. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in different aspects of war, especially the after math of war on mental stability. It was an interesting read and I am considering reading the rest of the series to find out what happened to the characters.