The Ghost Road by Pat Barker

About the book

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 …

Reviewed by Museum Group:

A disturbing read, which several members found difficult as they had family members involved in the First World War. It was hard not to feel the pain and loss. The awful waste of it all. The medical side of the book with the treatment of shell shock was fascinating. One will want to explore this further.

Star rating: ***

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3 thoughts on “The Ghost Road by Pat Barker”

  1. Review by Tenforbooks reading group:
    We should have read the first book of the trilogy before this one; most people felt too confused to enjoy this enough. However, several readers were completely enthralled by it, the uncompromising honesty and unsentimentality about horrifying situations.
    Star rating: * to **** (Extremes of opinion!)


  2. Review by The Benches
    There is a strong sense of fatalism in this story as the characters are involved in the first world war and earlier fighting on the tropical New Hebridean islands. William Rivers (a psychiatrist) recollects both and examines the state of people subjected to extreme human violence. However, few of the characters are likeable and the sexual aspects are sordid. All our readers disliked the book and those who had read “Birdsong” by Sebastian Faulks thought it a much better read.
    Star rating **


  3. Only 1 member enjoyed this book.
    It jumped from area to area never fully exploring any of them. Was it fastening up loose ends in the trilogy or was it just one book too far?
    Descriptions of battle in WW1 are always harrowing but do agree that Birdsong gives a much better account.
    A word of warning – the sex scenes both gay and straight involving the narrator Billy are extremely graphic. They added little to the story.
    We did wonder how this novel won the Booker.
    2 stars


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