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Toby's Roomby Pat Barker
Synopses & Reviews
From Booker Prize winner Pat Barker, a masterful novel that portrays the staggering human cost of the Great War. Admirers of her Regeneration Trilogy as well as fans of Downton Abbey and War Horse will be enthralled.
With Toby’s Room, a sequel to her widely praised previous novel Life Class, the incomparable Pat Barker confirms her place in the pantheon of Britain’s finest novelists. This indelible portrait of a family torn apart by war focuses on Toby Brooke, a medical student, and his younger sister Elinor. Enmeshed in a web of complicated family relationships, Elinor and Toby are close: some might say too close. But when World War I begins, Toby is posted to the front as a medical officer while Elinor stays in London to continue her fine art studies at the Slade, under the tutelage of Professor Henry Tonks. There, in a startling development based in actual fact, Elinor finds that her drafting skills are deployed to aid in the literal reconstruction of those maimed in combat.
One day in 1917, Elinor has a sudden premonition that Toby will not return from France. Three weeks later the family receives a telegram informing them that Toby is “Missing, Believed Killed” in Ypres. However, there is no body, and Elinor refuses to accept the official explanation. Then she finds a letter hidden in the lining of Toby’s uniform; Toby knew he wasn’t coming back, and he implies that fellow soldier Kit Neville will know why.
Toby’s Room is an eloquent literary narrative of hardship and resilience, love and betrayal, and anguish and redemption. In unflinching yet elegant prose, Pat Barker captures the enormity of the war’s impact—not only on soldiers at the front but on the loved ones they leave behind.
Penelope Fitzgerald's enchanting novel of the BBC in London during World War II. Featuring an introduction by Mark Damazer.
“A wonderful combination of deadpan English comedy and surreal farce.” — A. S. Byatt
“A tribute to the unsung and quintessentially English heroism of imperfect people.” — New Criterion
When British listeners tuned in to the BBC's Nine O'Clock News in the middle of 1940, they had no idea what human dramas—and follies—were unfolding behind the scenes. Targeted by enemy bombers, the BBC had turned its concert hall into a dormitory for both sexes, and personal chaos rivaled the political. Amidst the bombs and broadcasts two program directors fight for power while their younger female assistants fall prey to affairs, abandonment, and unrequited love. Reading this intimate glimpse behind the scenes of the BBC in its heyday, “one is left with the sensation,” William Boyd wrote in London Magazine, “that this is what is was really like.”
This new edition features an introduction by Mark Damazer, along with new cover art.
A New Yorks Times Notable Book
It is 1917, and Elinor Brooke, a young painter, is studying art in London while her beloved brother Toby serves on the front as a medical officer. When Toby goes missing and is presumed dead, the devastated Elinor refuses to accept it. Then she finds a letter hidden among his belongings; it reveals that Toby knew he wasn’t coming back and implies that his friend, medic Kit Neville, knows why. But Kit has been horribly disfigured and is reeling from shell shock. While Elinor tries to piece together the mystery of what happened to her brother, she uses her drawing skills to aid in the surgical reconstruction of those who have suffered unspeakable losses—of their faces, their memories, their very minds. Masterfully written, daringly ambitious, Toby’s Room explores at all levels what it means to be human.
About the Author
Pat Barker is the author of eleven previous novels, most recently Life Class, as well as 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. She lives in the north of England.
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