Saturday, June 16, 2012

Summer Reading: The Ghost Road

Pat Barker's The Ghost Road is the third installment of the Regeneration trilogy. While the first two books focus on the immediate effects of war on British society (as the war continues in France) the last book spends more time outside of Britain. One of the main protagonists, Billy Prior, goes back to France and we follow his diary of the days leading up to his death, which poignantly takes place at the well known battle where Wilfred Owen died just a week before the Armistice. Paralleling Prior's diary is the memory of Dr. Rivers of his experience on an anthropological expedition to Melanesia.

I know that the novel won the Booker Prize but I was not as impressed with it as I was with the other two, especially the first book. The other two were indirectly about the war and indirectly about Rivers' anthropological experiences and they focused more on the reactions to and the anxieties about the war.

One thing I saw and appreciated is how all of the books focus on relationships between people: father/son in the first book, sexual relationships in the second, and camaraderie in the third.

I think if I were to teach a class on the First World War ever I might have them read this series, or at least the second one, because it makes so many of the social issues explicit.

I feel bad for not writing a whole review, but I have to remind myself that this is just a few little notes to help me remember that I even read the book. I'm also pretty proud of myself for reading three novels in one week! My goal is to listen to three 6-hour installments, and these last three just happened to each be only 6 hours long, so next week I might only read one or two larger books, but I think I can keep up with the 6-hour thing.

I have also still managed to keep up with German and I'm on the way to pass my language requirement.  And I finally figured out what I'm writing my autobiography paper on! That'll be my next post.

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