The Eye in the Door by Pat Barker ★★★★
The 2nd book in Pat Barker’s Regeneration Trilogy takes place in 1918 London. The main protagonist in this novel, Billy Prior, is a young officer who, when we met him, was suffering from shell shock in the first book, Regeneration. Here, Billy is trying to put the pieces of his life together and is working for the Ministry of Munitions. That Billy is leading a double life is amply clear from the first chapter of the book. After having been turned down for sex by his date, a girl who has put out for him once before, he proceeds to follow a man to his home for a romp in the sack which is described in great detail, clearly reminding us that this is a most contemporary historical novel. Billy has no qualms about his bisexuality, but what he does have a problem with is the increasing frequency with which he experiences loss of time which he can’t account for, and although Dr. Rivers (one of the main protagonists in the first book) tries to convince him that he doesn’t necessarily turn into a Mr. Hyde when he loses consciousness of his actions, Billy fears the worst.
There were plenty of interesting themes in this novel, though I can’t say I enjoyed it as much as I did the first one, which instantly became one of my all-time favourites. Billy isn’t necessarily a sympathetic character, though his plight is interesting to witness, and one wonders if and how he’ll find his way out of it all. I look forward to reading the last book in the trilogy to see how Barker has tied together all the loose ends.
This review can also be found on the book’s main page.