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Review of Toby's Room

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Patricia Report 3 Dec 2013 15:35

I loved this book. Often meant to read Pat Barker's books about WW1 but this was my first. It won't be my last.
The subject is not an easy one being the effect of the horrors of the war on both soldiers and those left at home. The author draws us in to the characters and makes us feel the sadness and hopelessness that tbey feel as they are forced to leave most of normal life and fight a war that is not of their making. A brother and sister are parted when the brother goes to the front and is posted missing believed killed. His sister sets out to find out what happened to him. She finds herself working in a hospital for soldiers with severe facial injuries. This part is interesting and makes us realise what a waste the war was.
The book is well written and researched and a page turner. I read it quite quickly as I wanted to know how it would turn out.
Altogether a great read.


AnninGlos Report 3 Dec 2013 16:16

Review Toby's room by Pat Barker

I have never read any books by this author before and didn’t know what to expect. This is a brilliant book and I will certainly look out for her other books.

Basically it is a story of World War one and relationships, covering the work done by medical war artists, something I knew nothing about. And also artists training at the Slade taught by Professor Henry Tonks who was also a surgeon.

The relationships mainly documented are firstly between brother and sister and the knowledge of the brother’s twin, dead at birth. Brother and sister have a close relationship, making for uneasy reading at times, with always a sense of what is undisclosed lying beneath the surface. And secondly the relationships between fellow artists who are subsequently soldiers at the front.

It is difficult to say that the book was enjoyable. The story exposes the horror of war, both for those at the front, those injured, in this case with facial injuries, and those civilians left at home. Some of the writing is graphic and explicit and I learned so much I didn’t know about the tragedy of this war. So, not enjoyable but informing and interesting and I am glad I have read it. It is interesting to note that Professor Henry Tonks was actually a real life surgeon and artist and his drawings can be seen on line.

A great read with sympathetic characters, well researched, and a true to life story line that emphasises the futility and horror of war and its effect on both those who take part in the fighting and those left at home. I couldn’t put it down, very much recommended.


Whizz Report 6 Dec 2013 17:37

I thought this novel was wonderful. But I am a Pat Barker fan. She often writes about war and it's devastation upon human life; body and soul. This book was no exception and Ms Barker never shrinks from the graphic. There is little left to the imagination. But the final denouement was less about the war than about the human condition and the taboos of that age. And there are a lot of unanswered issues for the reader to grapple with long after the book is read. I don't want to cite those here in case it spoils the novel for those who have not yet explored its depths. This is quality writing. Like the previous reviewer it is hard to say that it was an enjoyable read, in fact it was a very uncomfortable read but then you wouldn't pick up a Pat Barker novel for a good old feel-good factor, riding off into the sunset, holding hands type of tale. I've always admired those writers that deal with things head on with no fear and force us to contemplate things we may hitherto have wished to brush under the carpet. Thank you Genes Reunited for giving the opportunity to read this. It's a very good book in my opinion. :-)