Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Friday 30 August 2013

Book Beginnings (11) - Regeneration by Pat Barker

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays

The idea, as stated on the host's blog, is 'to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.' There's a hash tag #BookBeginnings for twitter etc too, and a master linky list on the host's blog. I've got a couple of books on the go at the moment so I've just picked one out to mention here.

My Book Beginning

Regeneration by Pat Barker
(the first book in the Regeneration trilogy)

Published by Penguin Books

'Finished with the War
A Soldier's Declaration

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.
I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of agression and conquest.'

What a striking start, opening with Sassoon's declaration. I'm coming up to halfway through this book and I think it is beautifully written, so moving and the story is so well told. I've been wanting to read this novel for a very long time, indeed I'd like to read the whole trilogy. It's also on my list of books for The Classics Club I want to read 'All Quiet on the Western Front' soon, too. Have you read this one?

About the novel:

Craiglockhart War Hospital, Scotland, 1917, where army psychiatrist William Rivers is treating shell-shocked soldiers. Under his care are the poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, as well as mute Billy Prior, who is only able to communicate by means of pencil and paper. Rivers’s job is to make the men in his charge healthy enough to fight. Yet the closer he gets to mending his patients’ minds the harder becomes every decision to send them back to the horrors of the front... Regeneration is the classic exploration of how the traumas of war brutalised a generation of young men.


  1. Sounds very intriguing....war often does as much damage to the psyche as any bullets can do to the bodies.

    Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

    1. Very true words, thanks for your comment.

  2. I haven't read this one...yet. Pat Barker is on my list of authors to read. Love the opening paragraphs.

    Here's my Friday post from a book also set in wartime in a different part of the world:

    1. I've read Toby's Room by her, the only other one I've read so far, but i have several on the pile. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I've only read one of this authors books and to be honest wasn't very impressed. However knowing several bloggers who are big fans I'm willing to give another of Pat's books a go.

  4. Hi Lindsay,

    Given the number of awards and accolades this author has received, I am rather surprised that have never read any of her books.

    I am not so sure that this would be a book that I would read, once I had sight of the synopsis, despite those beautifully alluring and evocative lines you feature.

    I am aware that 'Regeneration' is a novel, however, that it includes figures from such an illustrious background and 'fictionalises' them, doesn't really appeal to me.

    Thank you for featuring Pat's work this week though, I have come across a couple of her books that I wouldn't mind trying in the future.

    Have a great weekend,


  5. I'm about 30 pages from the end of this book. The writing really is beautiful.

  6. Powerful first lines, Lindsay. I have heard of Pat Barker's book but haven't read it. Glad to know that you are liking it. Will look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

    My 'Book Beginning on Friday' :)

    "From our bedroom window we can see a tree that we never seem to be able to agree about. Hubert says it's an acacia...In old fashioned novels, where words are given their just currency, their scent is described as sweet and intoxicating, and so it is - sweet and intoxicating - only it is no longer possible to say so using these words." - from 'The Loft' by Marlen Haushofer

  7. That is quite a powerful opening! I think I had added this book on my want-to-read list, will have to double-check. Thanks for sharing this and for dropping by my blog, I hope you had a lovely weekend :)

    - Lianne @

  8. Pat Barker deals with war better than anyone else (I think). Regeneration is completely wonderful and heartbreaking and so is the entire trilogy. I look forward to your thoughts when you finish!


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