#228 The Ghost Road

An excellent week for reading: I have a stupidly long commute to and from work each day and plenty of opportunity to read. Today I had to take two books because I knew I’d finish this one off on the journey there (although the one I started on the way home isn’t half as good – I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s commute half as much).
I hadn’t heard of Pat Barker before but spotted quite a few of her (I began the book thinking she was a woman and then started wondering if she might be male – and then after the first 10 pages didn’t think about her/him again until right now because the book was too honestly good to bother thinking about much else – I don’t know why it should matter anyway) books when I was hanging around the “B” section and picked out Elizabeth Bowen’s the House in Paris too (I was actually searching for Complicity by Iain Banks which I thought I’d read and was upset when I googled it to check and thought it sounded much better than The Player of Games which I’d got out instead – I haven’t managed to find it in the library since although I’m sure it was everywhere before !). On the basis of this book I would strongly recommend her and will definitely look out for her books in the future.
The Ghost Road follows two characters through the First World War: Billy Prior, a working class officer who is sent back to the front after a while spent in the same hospital in Scotland as Siegfried Sassoon, and William Rivers, a doctor who works at the hospital. We follow Billy back to France (to whence he has requested to return, despite knowing he could avoid it) and Rivers on a pre-war trip to Eddystone Island where he is allowed to observe the everyday life of a tribe guided by their witch doctor. I suppose I should try and draw some comparison between the two narratives and the significance of them being intertwined but I really didn’t: I thought both were brilliant and really enjoyed reading them – I don’t know which of the two I preferred but I was impatient to get through the Ghost Road and was sad it wasn’t longer. I don’t think I could say much more without just retelling the story – I liked every aspect of it and think this post falls flat in comparison !


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