Why did I love this book?
This novel opens Barker’s extraordinary trilogy about World War I, based on accounts given by the soldiers themselves. Barker’s research gives the opening novel a wonderful authenticity and a look into the biographies of soldier-poet Siegfried Sassoon and eminent psychiatrist W. H. Rivers. Sassoon’s protest against the excesses and horrors of war that he witnessed land him in Craiglockart War Hospital as a shell-shocked patient of Dr. Rivers, who becomes more and more conflicted about sending such shell-shocked men back onto the battlefield after his “cures.” I found the novel to be a tale of fascinating history and psychological depth. The final book in Barker’s war trilogy (The Ghost Road), incidentally, earned Barker the Booker Prize for fiction. But for full context I recommend you start where she did, with Sassoon.