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The Regeneration Trilogy (Regeneration #1-3)

4.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,429 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
A trilogy of novels set during World War I which mingle real and fictional characters. The Ghost Road won the 1995 Booker Prize.
Hardcover, 592 pages
Published January 1st 1996 by Viking Books
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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Best Historical Fiction
288th out of 5,600 books — 21,668 voters
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueA Farewell to Arms by Ernest HemingwayThe Regeneration Trilogy by Pat BarkerWar Horse by Michael MorpurgoBirds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières
WWI - The Great War (Historical Fiction)
3rd out of 225 books — 174 voters

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Community Reviews

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The novelists who wrote immediately after the war (or even during it) – Barbusse, Remarque, Manning, even Hemingway – were concerned mostly with getting down the facts: recording the realities of modern warfare before they allowed themselves to forget, before the details became incredible. Writers of subsequent generations cannot write what they know, and they need to do something else – bring some higher assessment of how people, and society, reacted to this cataclysm overall.

Doing this badly,
Feb 21, 2009 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A powerful reading experience, this is a book that one will be thinking about for a very long time. The writing is superb, the use of small, lovely details (sunlight reflecting on eyeglasses, rose petals, bubbles on the legs of a man resting in a fishpond, things seen only by starlight' etc., there are many more examples) against the backdrop of the vulgarity that was WWI, serve to make the book all the more moving. A sentence as simple as this is astounding within the context of the overall wor ...more
Cathy (cathepsut)
I read these books in the late '90s, after Ghost Road was first published. I was in love with the British war poets of WWI at the time and this fit right in. I don't remember many details, but these books were great reads. Very athmospheric, accessible and captivating main characters, I suffered with them every step of the way.
Apr 11, 2012 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This trilogy is a fascinating approach to WW I, using a handful of historical figures and one or two fictional characters to get into the psychology of the young Englishman who fought in the trenches of France. Book 1, Regeneration, is the story of Siegfried Sassoon's time at Craiglockhart Castle, Scotland, where he was being treated for "shell shock" (in Sassoon's case it was speaking out publicly against the war that made him unfit for service) by preeminent psychologist Dr. Jonathan Rivers. H ...more
Ruth Zaryski Jackson
Jan 25, 2013 Ruth Zaryski Jackson rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant must-read especially for anyone interested in World War One and shell shock. An unsentimental, raw and intimate trilogy featuring historically accurate figures such as war poets, Sigfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, and anthropologist/doctor W.H.R.Rivers. Read it!
Aug 18, 2015 Graham rated it it was amazing
While it's technically three novels, The Regeneration Trilogy is one story, and for convenience comes in a one-volume omnibus. Any of the parts could be read on its own—there's enough brief recap that one could be aware of the events of the other volumes without having read them, and as the trilogy is character-based rather than plot-based it won't befuddle anyone who jumps in at the middle. However, to do so would do the story an immense disservice. Read in its proper order, Regeneration forms ...more
Hard hitting, thought provoking and moving, this is an excellent trilogy set during the First World War. It deals largely with the psychological effects/trauma that the war had on the men who fought as well as various social issues of the time. These are books that do not shy away from the life-changing impact that the war had on the people involved and they make for some very emotive reading. The amount of research that Pat Barker has done into the subject is astonishing and the whole thing pro ...more
May 18, 2014 Bevan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The forthcoming anniversary of the Great War should provide some motivation for readers to revisit, or discover this trilogy from the nineties. Acclaimed at the time (topped off by a Booker Prize for the last in the series The Ghost Road) it has been on my 'to read' list for many years. The story centres around an institution for mentally ill soldiers near Edinburgh, and psychologist W H Rivers. A particular focus is his relationship with patient Siegfried Sassoon and the moral confl
Kaye McSpadden
Jan 13, 2010 Kaye McSpadden rated it liked it
I just finished the first book of the trilogy, entitled "Regeneration." I have mixed feelings about it. The story focuses on the treatment of World War I soldiers who have experienced psychiatric breakdowns and disorders as a result of the horrors of war. There is also an underlying discussion of the morality and ethics of war itself.

On the one hand, I enjoyed learning a little bit about the emerging views of post-combat psychiatric trauma, and I appreciated the fact that several of the charact
Feb 12, 2015 Joe rated it it was amazing
It's hard to imagine a more beautiful, more sublime or complex series of books than these by Pat Barker. I said in a recent conversation that they don't even feel as if they were written by a particular person, but that they just appeared, fully formed, to show us all that we need to know about how humans attempt to deal with tragedy; to live with the unlivable. War and its aftermath come to occupy the same place and time in these three books, inextricably linked in a society that does not yet u ...more
Apr 07, 2014 Jane rated it really liked it
The first novel in this trilogy presents us with victims of "shell shock" and other "war neuroses" being treated Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh during WWI. Barker bases some of her characters on historical figures such as poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and the man who led their treatment. Some of the details are brutal, but the writing is excellent, the characters Barker creates compelling. The inclusion of female munitions workers adds a perspective not usually found in either hi ...more
Ballyroan Reads
These three inter-related historical novels are set during the First World War and deal mainly with the treatment of soldiers suffering from the effect of shell shock. Several of the characters are based on historical figures such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, famous war-poets but the series centers on Billy Prior, a fictional working class officer.

The opening novel is set in Craiglockhart Hospital which served as a psychiatric facility for war casualties in reality, and another of the
Aug 14, 2014 Kyle rated it liked it
“Regeneration” is the first in a trilogy of historical fiction novels set around World War 1 that involves real personalities along with a few fictional characters sprinkled in to complete the story. This review covers the first book, and it is a different kind of war novel than I’ve ever read before because it didn’t focus much at all on major battles or the ebb and flow of the war. Instead, it focused on the psychological impact of the war and treatment of officers and soldiers exposed to brut ...more
Mar 17, 2015 Tania rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure I'm quite the person to properly say this a I'm really not well-acquainted with WWI but I'd say that unlike some media I could mention it felt authentic to the era. Of course the war is horrific and it doesn't shy away from from that yet without removing the horror of what happened it managed to get over the ambiguity of how those involved felt about it because it's known that some of the historical figures in the book did chose to go back.
Strangely as the books went on it went fro
Lin Block
A difficult subject to read of at times. The horrors and aftermath of WW1 on an individuals psyche were described to a point that I found myself putting the book down to spend time processing all I had read.
I know of Sassoon poetry and Wilfrid Owen, but not of their lives. The steady journey the book took through their lives was well written, highlighting who they were as men who endured so much. Dr Rivers and Craglockart hospital play a major role in supporting men recovering from the mental a
Sally Atwell Williams
This book is actually three of Pat Barker's previously printed as individual books, and then combined into a trilogy. Barker is a wonderful writer and researcher, and many of her characters are real English officers/soldiers of World War I, who experienced terrible wounds of both the body and the mind. Dr. Rivers, an English pyschologist, has it his duty to help men recall what they experienced and face it. He too is an authentic doctor. The Trilogy takes us back and forth from the hospital ward ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Kerry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was disappointed with this book. Despite being really interested in both World Wars, especially the impact on soldiers and civilians, I could only crawl through the first book of the trilogy "Regeneration." It took me forever to read it, seeing it more as a chore than a leisure read. Whilst it does deal with shell shock I don't think it gave that much information and I couldn't get excited by any of the characters, even though my two favourite war poets made an appearance (Sassoon & Owen). ...more
Jan 30, 2016 Fishface rated it really liked it
Remarkable trilogy about a rather sociopathic soldier serving with the British Expeditonary Force in WWI, who succumbs to shellshock and is treated for it in a mental hospital. The book jackets all try to convince me that the protagonist, Billy Prior, is the most charming man I'll ever meet but I just don't see it. he is well-drawn, as are all the characters. The description of Prior's PTSD, his therapeutic alliance with an excellent psychiatrist and the course of his recovery, on the other hand ...more
Bill Tyne
In giving this volume a three star rating I am judging the trilogy as a whole. The first book in the series is by far and away the best. All the characters are beautifully drawn and believable. The situations feel authentic and you get a real sense of gaining some understanding of how the First World War impacted on the lives of everyone. Sadly in the later volumes the fictitious character of Billy Prior becomes less and less believable as Barker uses him to explore the prejudices and ills of so ...more
My introduction to Pat Barker and the Regeneration trilogy was actually via a 2012 Economist book review of Toby's Room (sequel to Life Class ): I remember thinking the book sounded fascinating, and putting it on my mental to-read list after reading the Regeneration trilogy and Life Class.

I still haven't gotten round to Life Class yet, but I was in an airport bookshop recently and saw the paperback edition of the Regeneration trilogy. I was slightly confused as to why the bookshop had chosen
Yumiko Hansen
-- Just finished "The Re generation Trilogy" -- what a fascinating book it was!!!! Although I was rather disappointed after reading "Regeneration" which is the first book in a trilogy: It would have been more enjoyable if the book was more focused on the characters's 'background'.

I , however, started to enjoy Barker's writing style from the second part onward: very descriptive and powerful. The use of small, lovely details against the backdrop of the vulgarity that was WW1, serves to make the b
Mikael Kuoppala
May 06, 2012 Mikael Kuoppala rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The best analysis of war I have ever read. It focuses on the psychological and sosiological damages of war and truly illustrates the pointlessness of it all.

“Regenaration” is a masterful beginning for a strong trilogy of books that study WWI from a psychososiological perspective, featuring both real historical characters and truly interesting fictional ones.

I’m not that hot on historical and especially war novels, but Barker has created a deeply meaningful, beautiful and extremely powerful maste
May 19, 2009 Ellen rated it it was ok
The Regeneration Triology is a mix of fact and fiction set in England during WWI. The first book, Regeneration (a Booker Prize nominee) is about the psychologist W.H.R. Rivers who treated the poet Siegfried Sassoon for shell shock. Sassoon's friend Robert Graves (I, Claudius)and the poet Wilfred Owen are in the story as well.

The second book, The Eye in the Door, is about the very active campaigns that were waged in England against conscientious objectors and homosexuals with the central, fictio
Mar 06, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If I could have put the rest of my life on hold, I would have read these historical novels about World War I straight through, nonstop. The trilogy includes Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road and the writing is clear and beautiful. The first book was made into a film (Behind the Lines) and the other two books won awards. The main characters (a few of whom are actual figures: war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, neurologist/psychiatrist Dr. William Rivers) are soldiers ...more
Kirsty Stanley
Apr 08, 2011 Kirsty Stanley rated it really liked it
Recommended to Kirsty by: Open University AZX300
As part of my Twentieth Century Literature (AZX300) course with the Open Univeristy I read The Ghost Road by Pat Barker. This was actually the last in the series and after I read it I just had to buy and read the first two, Regeneration and The Eye in the Door (though it does stand up on its own).
The books mix fictional and real characters (notably Dr.William Rivers and the war poets Siegfried Sasson and Wilfred Owen). Much of it is set at Craiglockhart psychiatric hospital in World World War w
Rachael Eyre
Jul 27, 2013 Rachael Eyre rated it it was amazing
I'll keep this brief, because I could happily recount its virtues all day, but I loved it. With its motley cast of characters- my absolute favourite being the anthropologist turned psychiatrist Dr Rivers- and its refusal to shy away from gay themes, it was fantastic.

That's not to say it's without flaws. Billy Prior, ostensibly the main character (and one of the few completely fictional figures to appear) is incredibly unsympathetic and given to jaw dropping behaviour- while he's tentatively diag
May 05, 2012 Betty rated it really liked it
I read this trilogy after finishing "To End All Wars" by Adam Hochschild, which looks at WWI history from the vantage point of England. Since I seem to be on a roll with WWI, I decided to listen to Pat Barker's books that deal with the same period. The novels take place mostly in England, and the two main characters are the psychiatrist Rivers (a real person) and one of his patients, Billy Pryor (fictitious). By weaving the action around this pair, Barker is able to explore the terrible waste of ...more
Aug 16, 2007 Falkor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like historical fiction, military/war related fiction, or who are interested in WWI
This haunting, elegiac trilogy of novels about World War I focuses not on adventure and heroism but on the deep scars that the trauma of war leaves on the psyches of soldiers.

The first book, Regeneration, is about the efforts of Dr. William H.R. Rivers, a real life pioneering psychiatrist, to help officers hospitalized for "shell shock." His patients include a man who has been unable to eat since a decaying corpse exploded in his face, getting into his mouth; a man who cannot speak and cannot r
Frangipani Marigold
Jan 19, 2014 Frangipani Marigold rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Culloty
Aug 04, 2012 Paul Culloty rated it it was amazing
A person might think that yet another book about World War One could hardly grab the reader's attention, but The Regeneration Trilogy manages to be compulsive reading. In the self-titled opener, we're introduced to the famous poets Wilfrid Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, as they both go for recuperative therapy, and not only do we get an engaging picture of flesh-and-blood characters, but the horrors of war are graphically portrayed more tellingly than any history book could attempt. The second book ...more
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Pat Barker was born in Thornaby-on-Tees in 1943. She was educated at the London School of Economics and has been a teacher of history and politics.

Her books include the highly acclaimed Regeneration trilogy Regeneration ; The Eye in the Door , winner of the Guardian Fiction Prize; and The Ghost Road , winner of the Booker Prize; as well as seven other novels. Pat Barker is married and lives in
More about Pat Barker...

Other Books in the Series

Regeneration (3 books)
  • Regeneration (Regeneration, #1)
  • The Eye in the Door (Regeneration, #2)
  • The Ghost Road (Regeneration, #3)

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“And the Great Adventure - the real life equivalent of all the adventure stories they'd devoured as boys - consisted of crouching in a dugout, waiting to be killed. The war that had promised so much in the way of 'manly' activity had actually delivered 'feminine' passivity, and on a scale that their mothers and sisters had hardly known. No wonder they broke down.” 2 likes
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