February 12th, 2010
I just finished reading this book Regeneration, the first of the Pat Barker WWI trilogy.
It was powerful and somehow very relevant today although it is written about a time so long ago.
The setting is a mental hospital for WWI British soldiers. Many are sent there to be rehabilitated before going back to the front. Some are released from duty and sent home. What was surprising to me was the dichotomy of feelings experienced by those receiving their ’sentence’. If they were sent back, they were proud to be again serving their country and being deemed “fit for duty”, however there was the fear of going back to the horrors they have already experienced. If they were sent home and released from duty, there was relief, but horrible shame and guilt.
The characters were so believeable and I felt such sympathy for some of them. I found out at the end while reading the Author’s Note that this book is based on a true story and on real people. It’s hard to think that these are real stories. What is written about within the pages actually happened to people. Wow is the word that comes to mind, but it’s insufficient.
Aside from being an essay on ethics (essentially), it chronicles some of the psychiatric treatments of the time. Completely barbaric and I found reading about them very upsetting. At the same time it’s very fascinating that doctors can be so convinced of their modes of treatment which are basically torture. Unfortunately they were successful and therefore continued. Horrifying.
I’m not sure this book is for everyone. I did find the characters a bit hard to keep straight. They are each identified by their disorder and I didn’t really see that as an acceptable way to keep them in mind. I need physical descriptions.
I’m off to read book 2!
Enjoying the journey, Amanda
Entry Filed under: Books