Another fantastic read for 2009. I'm on a roll! After reading Birdsong last year for my book club, I became quite interested in WWI, and my father suggested that I read the series by Pat Barker.
Regeneration centers around Dr. William Rivers, a psychiatrist at the Craiglockhart War Hospital who is treating officers returning from the front. One of his patients is Siegried Sassoon, a noted poet of the day, who has be sent to Craiglockhart not because of war trauma, but because of an anti-war manifesto he wrote that was published in the newpaper. As Dr. Rivers works with Sassoon and many others, the scale of death and destruction, and seemingly endless stream of traumatized soldiers, starts to take its toll. Rivers is forced to confront his own demons and decide if and how he wants his career to proceed.
What makes this book so brilliant is how Barker is able to address so many themes in a 250 page book that consists of a lot of dialogue. These themes range from homosexuality (admitted and repressed) to supressed anger to the insanity of war. I loved her writing style as well - clear and to the point, but also full of imagery and feeling. No book review can do it justice.
The icing on the cake is that several of the characters in 'Regeneration' were real people, and Barker has based the story on actual events that occured at the time. This made the story that much more moving, and I am already into the next book in the trilogy.
MY RATING: 10/10