Toby's Room

Pat Barker

Toby's Room

When Toby is reported 'Missing, Believed Killed', another secret casts a lengthening shadow over Elinor's world: how exactly did Toby die - and why? Elinor determines to uncover the truth. Only then can she finally close the door to Toby's room. Moving from the Slade School of Art to Queen Mary's Hospital, where surgery and art intersect in the rebuilding of the shattered faces of the wounded, Toby's Room is a riveting drama of identity, damage, intimacy and loss. 4.0 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
Toby's Room

Omniscore:

Classification Fiction
Genre General Fiction
Format Hardcover
Pages 272
RRP
Date of Publication August 2012
ISBN 978-0241144572
Publisher Hamish Hamilton
 

When Toby is reported 'Missing, Believed Killed', another secret casts a lengthening shadow over Elinor's world: how exactly did Toby die - and why? Elinor determines to uncover the truth. Only then can she finally close the door to Toby's room. Moving from the Slade School of Art to Queen Mary's Hospital, where surgery and art intersect in the rebuilding of the shattered faces of the wounded, Toby's Room is a riveting drama of identity, damage, intimacy and loss.

Reviews

The Independent

Stevie Davies

Barker, unlike Woolf, accepts classic realist conventions. I'd forgotten what a superb stylist she is, at once forensically observant and imaginatively sublime.

25/08/2012

Read Full Review


The Daily Mail

John Harding

Barker is a natural storyteller and the book pulls you in from the opening paragraphs. Her sensitive, unsensational, remarkably detailed handling of the hospital scenes is hugely impressive, as is her mastery of suspense, with the reader in the closing chapters torn between wanting to linger over the sheer pleasure of the writing and the desire to rush towards the end to discover how it all pans out.

03/08/2012

Read Full Review


The Daily Telegraph

Mark Sanderson

Once again Barker skilfully moves between past and present (1912 and 1917), seamlessly weaving fact and fiction into a gripping narrative. If her characters are less sympathetic than might be expected, this is no doubt deliberate. Elinor, Paul and Kit are traumatised people.

30/08/2012

Read Full Review


The Daily Express

Vanessa Berridge

Emotions as well as bodies are dissected in this fiercely honest account of the effects of war. It’s a powerful, searing read but if I have a slight reservation it is that the novel adds little to what Barker has written before.

31/08/2012

Read Full Review


The Guardian

Hermione Lee

Barker has never been a thrilling stylist, and can often sound ordinary: "thoughts floated to the surface of her mind and burst like bubbles"; "the ache of his absence was like nothing she'd ever experienced before". But you don't go to her for fine language, you go to her for plain truths, a driving storyline and a clear eye, steadily facing the history of our world. In these respects, Toby's Room doesn't disappoint.

10/08/2012

Read Full Review


The Sunday Times

Peter Kemp

With its vivid and informed detail, expertly caught dialogue and combination of unflinchingness and empathy, Toby’s Room is unmistakably another of Barker’s distinctive and distinguished additions to our literature of war.

02/09/2012

Read Full Review


The Times

Matthew Dennison

For all its thematic richness, Toby’s Room fails to satisfy. Elinor Brooke lacks charisma, and extracts from her diary are unconvincing. The novel’s relationships have a bloodless quality so that the connections between Elinor, Kit and Paul appear arbitrary, there to facilitate Barker’s plot Happily, the novel comes alive when Barker finds herself back in the trenches. Her exploration of the psychological effects of trench warfare on its protagonists is devastating.

27/10/2012

Read Full Review


The Daily Telegraph

Freya Johnston

Elinor can be self-important and inappropriate, but Barker doesn’t make anything funny out of her hubris or other mistakes. There is little sense of disagreement between heroine and narrator, no ironic ripple travelling from one to the other and back again. Without that discrepancy, the reader has less work to do and tension is slackened – although the pace of the story makes excellent amends.

03/09/2012

Read Full Review


©2013 The Omnivore