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The Eye in the Door Paperback – April 1, 1995

4.5 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The Eye in the Door is the second installation of Pat Barker's acclaimed and haunting historical fiction trilogy about British soldiers traumatized by World War I trench warfare and the methods used by psychiatrist William Rivers to treat them. As with the other two, the book was recognized with awards, winning the 1993 Guardian Fiction Prize. Here, Lieutenant Billy Prior is tormented by figuring out which side of several coins does he live -- coward or hero, crazy or sane, homosexual or heterosexual, upper class or lower. He represents the upheaval in Britain during the war and the severe trauma felt by its soldiers. The writing is sparse yet multilayered; Barker uses the lives of a few to capture an entire society during a tumultuous period. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

From the author of Regeneration comes the story of British society's struggles during WWI.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (April 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452272726
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452272729
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,188,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on November 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
If "Regeneration" were to be considered the story of Dr. Rivers and his patient Siegfried Sassoon, "The Eye In The Door" might be said to be the story of the same doctor and another patient, Mr. Billy Prior. I also would say that the opening comment is an oversimplification. The first two volumes of this trilogy are amazingly rich in detail and personality, and part three, "The Ghost Road", is proving to be no different.
The title of this review is a quote expressed by Prior early in his treatment with Dr. Rivers. It describes a fictional character, but it also demonstrates Pat Barker's brilliant use of words. She has the ability to transform a cliché, to make it fresh, her own, as when she speaks through a female character, "In her world, men loved women as the fox loves the hare. And women loved men as the tapeworm loves the gut." A bit more thought provoking than, men are from Mars, women from Venus.
Mr. Prior becomes an amalgam for many, and perhaps most of the issues the first two books explore. He also through his complex of issues, greatly affects Dr. Rivers. The Doctor cannot maintain complete detachment; one scene even has them switching roles, with Prior drilling into the painful childhood of his advisor. The relationship between Rivers and Prior becomes so psychologically intense, the doctor finds himself dreaming the nightmares "of others". He starts to identify with a critical event that may have damaged Prior as a child. The timing and location of their respective young fears is amazingly similar.
Ms. Barker seems to use the doctor as a metaphor for his patients and their collective experiences. Prior has more going on within his world than anyone could be expected to cope with and remain sane.
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Format: Paperback
I have read Regeneration, Ghost Road and The Eye in the Door. I was struck by the passages in The Eye which described the process of regeneration. Learning to discern the source of pain, emotional or physical, and dealing with it consciously or through our dreams, are deeper lessons to be found in these historical novels. Integrating cerebral and emotional responses is a endeavor that we should each pursue. This fiction does in fact provide the reader, along with Dr. Rivers, with a vocabulary to address our duality whether it be in the context of World Was I or Vietnam or our daily efforts to understand our deepest motivations, stimulii, responses and perceptions of life. Ironically, I was reading Estes' Women who run with the Wolves at the same time I was enjoying these novels. The novels by Pat Barker illustrated the concept of Descanos, marking our "deaths" and failures which halt our lives unexpectedly. Acceptance, integration and forgiveness are the ultimate goals once the source of our pain is identified. By understanding the lessons that Barker teaches in her novels, I understand that although the world may be falling to pieces outwardly, we can heal ourselves with the assistance of our patient teachers by looking calmly at the situation that causes us rage and sorrow, projecting ourselves into the future, and from that vantage point deciding what would make us feel proud of our past behavior, and then acting that way. Learn about our darker sides. Barker's historical approach illuminates our universal truths and illusions because in a broad sense the emotional and physical problems of Dr. Rivers and his patients are our problems today. Jennifer Stuller Nehrbas
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Format: Paperback
Pat Barker's magnificent trilogy is not only a profound contribution to our literature on the First World War - it is also one of the most distinguished works of contemporary fiction in any genre. Barker doesn't skirt around the central issues with a po-faced patriotic reverence, but rather tackles them head on: the agonizing contradictions of patriotism and protest; the politics of social and self-surveillance; the homoerotic undertones of trench camaraderie, especially among the war poets; the horrendous physical and psychological costs of war; and the sense of personal duty which drives us, nonetheless, to fight. These are big themes, but Barker's talent is to handle them in a way which makes her novels feel like an easy read. They are accessible, engaging, seemingly simplistic in their style - but in the end profoundly moving in a way which only the highest literature aspires to be. The trick is that she makes her characters so real for us - Prior and Rivers, the consistent protagonists, are completely human. She makes us experience a world-historical incident on a very human scale. Harrowing, intelligent, moving and funny, Barker has crafted a fictional epic that will stay with you forever. Walking through Sydney's Central railway station months after finishing these books, I came across the honour boards listing the hundreds of railway men and women who died in the Great War. Barker's books made the war real for me, made these lives - these deaths - real. If they do nothing more than that for you, they've succeeded.
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I really believe that the most difficult task of any writer would be to write a historical novel, particularly one set during war years, that is fresh and void of cliche. In this regard, Pat Barker is truly amazing. Both "Regneration" and "The Eye in the Door" offer fresh voice and lack sentimentality..."Regeneration" and "The Eye in the Door" are intense and searchingly deep. Barker has written about psychological problems in terms a layman can grasp. She has written passionately of a war often over-shadowed by successive wars and of the pain and fear more comfortably white-washed by patriotism.
These books will engender fresh compassion for those veterans who have bravely fought wars abroad, witnessing and suffering untold horrors and for those who bravely fought at home by questioning the sanity of what politics demanded and were branded cowards for their beliefs.
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