#232 Another World

I think something’s gone wrong and I began the first post with the wrong number because I’m fairly sure (unless I’ve missed something out – which I almost hope I have) I’m actually only on #231, but I don’t know how I can correct this without skipping a book or, I suppose entitling one out of order, or going back through and renaming them all (it’s already gone too far for that)… hopefully I’ll figure it out at some point. I don’t often go through the list to count them up anymore because 1001 lines are a lot to read through and sadly I haven’t yet read enough to feel too great about it yet !
Another World is the third and final Pat Barker book on the list, which is a real shame because I have enjoyed all three of the books by her that I’ve read on there, and now I’ll have to wait a long long time to read another. Another World kind of corresponds with the Ghost Road and Regeneration in its treatment of memory and the after effects of WWI, but this time the war is long over: Geordie the veteran is 101 and about to die, instead his grandson Nick is the main character of the book. In a lot of ways this brought the war closer to home: the war has been a big part of his life up until the modern day and is dragged back into the present in doubts of dementia.
As with the other two Pat Barker books I’ve read, there are a lot of haunting things that happened in this one that will stay with me: mostly war-related (which although chilling and sad I don’t count as a bad thing – I do feel like I should know more about both world wars) but this one had an additional supernatural element. Characters in the other two were understandably haunted by the ghosts of their fellow soldiers; at the beginning of the novel Nick’s family have just moved into a supposedly haunted houseNi: throughout the story they seem to be plagued by the presence of the rich Victorian family that once owned it, after whom the mansion is named. The family consists of Nick, his partner (wife ?) Fran and her horrible (Wasp Factory-esque in ways, though not half as bad) 11 year old son, Nick’s 13 year old daughter who comes to stay briefly, and their toddler Jasper. The family is less than harmonious and in a “bonding” session when they’re scraping off old wallpaper, they discover a chilling portrait of the previous, Victorian owners (I fail to believe that no one has lived there since as it’s not too dilapidated – although we discover that a child was murdered in the house so I can’t imagine it would have been too popular): a family picture painted directly onto the wall with father, step mother, sullen daughter and son and smug baby boy, seemingly ordinary except for the obvious air of loathing between its subjects, and the uncovered gentiles of the parents. Nick’s daughter exclaims that it’s them, and as we discover more about the Victorian family we’re waiting to see whether she is proved wrong. Thus I was torn between Geordie’s WWI memories, the uncovering of the Victorian family’s history (the book is currently too far away for me to check their name) and Nick’s family’s fairly unpleasant present. This made for an engaging and interesting read: I’m not sure which of the three threads I preferred and in some places I definitely wanted to move away from Nick and find more out about Geordie (maybe because I didn’t find Nick the most likable character – although I suppose he was meant to be human, not a hero); either way I’d recommend it.

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