Thursday, April 30, 2009

Review of The Eye In The Door

The Eye In The Door is the second book in the Regeneration Trilogy . Unlike the first book which centered mostly around Dr. Rivers, The Eye in the Door is split between Dr. Rivers' continued work with patients suffering from 'shell shock', and Billy Prior, one of Dr. Rivers' patients who was introduced in Regeneration.

The Eye in the Door takes place in the Spring of 1918, when the war was dragging on and defeat by Germany seemed possible. In England, politicians were distracting the public by targeting homosexuals, and the historical events of the time play a central role in the book. In fact, I've had a very difficult time writing this review because the story is so complex and nuanced with plot turns peppered by historical events, not to mention psychological food for thought. This is the type of book where each chapter could be a study of its own, either of history or psychology, yet there is a story that weaves its way through all of them and ties the book together.

Barker is an expert at conveying the emotions of a scene through dialogue. It's as though each chapter has it's own emotional theme (repression, fear, anger, sadness, love), and you feel it with the characters as you read. With the myriad emotions and politics surrounding homosexuality in England during this time set as the backdrop, Barker creates a tense but riveting story that is part history, part novel, part mystery, and part psychological study. Written by a lesser writer, this would probably have devolved into a chaotic and unsatisying read. But Barker manages to pull it off and I couldn't put it down. I didn't love it as much as Regeneration, but it doesn't fall far behind.


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