Monday, 16 July 2012

Regeneration by Pat Barker

Pat Barker’s novel, Regeneration, is the first book of the Regeneration trilogy. Set in 1917 in Craiglockheart, a psychiatric home for soldiers of the war, this is a fantastic read which gives the reader a great insight into WW1. Regeneration is a book which intertwines fact with fiction, yet, is a simple read. The novel has a simple storyline which follows a psychologist, Rivers, who works at Craiglockheart and the different patients he deals with every day; Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen are included amongst these. The book is full of rich details about the horrors of the war, and transports us back to 1917. This is a lovely read which explores the effects of war on the human mind.
The main protagonist in this story is Mr Rivers. It is his job to cure the soldiers and once they are fit they will return to the front-line. This is a daunting job and Rivers is deeply affected by the horrific effects the war has on his patients. This book explores a deep rooted question which surrounds not just the Great War but every war, whether there is justice in sending men out to die aimlessly fortheir country, and towards the end of the novel Barker articulates it perfectly “A society that devours its own young deserves no automatic or unquestioning allegiance.”  Sassoon and Rivers have many conversations about Sasoon’s withdrawal from the war and the reasons behind his protest, which opens the eyes of the reader and we see the mindset of the people at the time. Sassoon was not a pacifist as many people can interpret from his poetry; his protest instead was ignited from the prolongation of the war and the pointless loss of lives. Towards the end of the book Rivers sees himself as a changed man through his encounter with these different patients.
            Wilfred Owen, another great World War poet also resides in Craiglockheart; he and Sassoon become great friends, sharing their ideas and poetry with one another. From reading the blurb on the back of the book, one would think that the story focuses completely on these characters while this is not the case. In this novel we are introduced to many broken men who each have a different story to tell; Rivers extracts this information from his patients divulging it to the readers to gobble up. It feel as though we are working  alongside Rivers, gaining insight into the situations of these characters and understanding why they have ended up in Craiglockheart.
            Though Craiglockheart seems far away from the war front, the monstrosities of this war live on in the soldier’s minds; they haunt their dreams and prevents them from sleeping at night. The patients in Craiglockheart are caught in a catch 22 situation,  afraid to go back to the horrors of the war for fear of what they will see and the practicality of death, yet, guilt-ridden at the prospect of staying on in Craiglockheart as their comrades are dying on the battlefield.
            Speckled with bits of humour throughout Regeneration is a light read; I look forward to the next two books in the trilogy, The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road, and can reward this book nothing less than Five Stars. 

Next week Lady Ardour will be reviewing The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. 


  1. Haven't heard of this one. But next week, I'll be looking forward to your review of THE NIGHT CIRCUS!

  2. Great, did you like the Night Circus? :)


Blog Top Sites