Toby's Room by Pat Barker

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“Toby’s Room” takes large risks. It’s dark, painful and indelibly grotesque, yet it’s also tender.
-NY Times


From Booker Prize winner Pat Barker, a masterful novel that portrays the staggering human cost of the Great War. Admirers of her Regeneration Trilogy as well as fans of Downton Abbey and War Horse will be enthralled.

With Toby’s Room, a sequel to her widely praised previous novel Life Class, the incomparable Pat Barker confirms her place in the pantheon of Britain’s finest novelists. This indelible portrait of a family torn apart by war focuses on Toby Brooke, a medical student, and his younger sister Elinor. Enmeshed in a web of complicated family relationships, Elinor and Toby are close: some might say too close. But when World War I begins, Toby is posted to the front as a medical officer while Elinor stays in London to continue her fine art studies at the Slade, under the tutelage of Professor Henry Tonks. There, in a startling development based in actual fact, Elinor finds that her drafting skills are deployed to aid in the literal reconstruction of those maimed in combat.

One day in 1917, Elinor has a sudden premonition that Toby will not return from France. Three weeks later the family receives a telegram informing them that Toby is “Missing, Believed Killed” in Ypres. However, there is no body, and Elinor refuses to accept the official explanation. Then she finds a letter hidden in the lining of Toby’s uniform; Toby knew he wasn’t coming back, and he implies that fellow soldier Kit Neville will know why.

Toby’s Room
is an eloquent literary narrative of hardship and resilience, love and betrayal, and anguish and redemption. In unflinching yet elegant prose, Pat Barker captures the enormity of the war’s impact—not only on soldiers at the front but on the loved ones they leave behind.

About Pat Barker

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PAT BARKER has earned a place in the first rank of contemporary British writers with such novels as Union Street, Regeneration (shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Booker Prize and chosen by the New York Times as one of the four best novels of 1992), The Eye in the Door (winner of the 1993 Guardian fiction prize), and The Ghost Road (winner of the 1995 Booker Prize). The latter three novels are available in Dutton hardcover and Plume paperback editions. Pat Barker lives in Durham, England.
Published October 2, 2012 by Anchor. 322 pages
Genres: History, War, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Toby's Room
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NY Times

Reviewed by JOHN VERNON on Oct 05 2012

“Toby’s Room” takes large risks. It’s dark, painful and indelibly grotesque, yet it’s also tender.

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Toronto Star

Reviewed by Emily Donaldson on Oct 17 2012

This is a writer truly, to use that hoary cliché, at the height of her powers, and it’s a dizzying height indeed.

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