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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker 
22nd-Dec-2006 04:06 pm
And I'm FINALLY going to finish this trilogy that I started back in September. ^_^;

Barker, Pat. The Eye in the Door. 1993. New York: Plume, 1995.
          Summary: The second volume of The Regeneration Trilogy. Dogged by a backdrop of hatred against pacifists and homosexuals, tormented by his own ambivalence about the rightness of war with Germany, and determined to free hometown friends from conviction of treason, Lieutenant Billy Prior's personality starts to fracture, and not even Dr. Rivers can help him. In time, though, he seems to overcome his multiple personalities as the events of history progress.
          Comments: Though I liked the first volume of the trilogy Regeneration quite a bit, this one was even better! It was, for some reason, a much easier and much more enjoyable read. Fewer characters to worry about, and those central to the plot--Billy Prior and Dr. Rivers--came alive for me in this book in a way that they simply did not in the previous. Billy in particular, the schizophrenic sexual omnivore and entirely original Pat Barker creation, is great. Dr. Rivers continues to be intriguing, and I loved the homoerotically-charged therapeutic sessions between him and Billy.
          Speaking of homoeroticism, that particular theme is more explicitly developed here at the end with the reappearance of Siegfried Sassoon, openly expressing romantic affection for the soldiers under his wing. And, also, of course, with Charles Manning, who is stressing over Maud Allan's libel suit. That lawsuit underlines a new theme that the author begins developing: That, despite the cult of manhood promulgated by the nationalistic culture of war, the war was also liberating women by employing them in the munitions factories and providing a better wage than their husbands were earning--and doing it way faster than many were comfortable with.
          Homosexuals and "loose women," along with pacifists, become scapegoats for a beleaguered British government that fears it is losing the war. The title of the novel, The Eye in the Door, is a reference to the constant surveillance and paranoia of the period. Oddly, the visual metaphor for this particular abridgment of democratic freedom speaks far more loudly and persuasively right now than The X-Files era during which Barker wrote this novel the first place (or, for that matter, the early 20th century, I could easily imagine) and bluntly reminds us that seeing danger from without makes us too ready to turn right around look for danger from within.
          Notes: trade paperback, 10th printing
          Rating: 7/10 - Plainly-written but undeniably haunting. A remarkable work that brings the WWI era and its ambiguities back to life.
23rd-Dec-2006 01:55 am (UTC)
I love Pat Barker's books so much.
1st-Jan-2007 06:13 am (UTC)
Review archived.
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