The Eye in the Door
English writer Pat Barker has written three novels in the nineties about World War One: Regeneration (part one of the Regeneration Trilogy) (1993, about a poet who is treated in England for shellshock from his experiences in the trenches); The Eye in the Door (1994, in which an officer develops a split personality from his experiences at the front); And The Ghost Road (1995, the impressive closing of the triptych). In a clear narrative style, the writer of the trilogy paints a vivid picture of the horrors of this man-to-man war and the traumatic consequences for those who survived.
It is 1917. In a public statement, Siegfried Sassoon, poet and officer in the British army, takes a stand against the futility of the war. His provocative charge, addressed to the politicians responsible for the slaughter at the front, does not get him court marshaled. Instead, Sassoon is submitted in the military hospital Craiglockhart, where a conflict arises between him and Dr. Rivers.
It is the spring of 1918, and Britain is faced with the possibility of defeat by Germany. A beleaguered government and a vengeful public target two groups as scapegoats: pacifists and homosexuals. Many are jailed, others lead dangerous double lives, the "the eye in the door" becomes a symbol of the paranoia that threatens to destroy the very fabric of British society.
Central to this novel are such compelling, richly imagined characters as the brilliant and compassionate Dr. William Rivers; his most famous patient, the poet Siegfried Sassoon; and Lieutenant Billy Prior, who plays a central role as a domestic intelligence agent. With compelling, realistic dialogue and a keen eye for the social issues that have gone overlooked in mainstream media, The Eye in the Door is a triumph that equals Regeneration and the third novel in the trilogy, the 1995 Booker Prize-winning The Ghost Road, establishing Pat Barker's place in the very forefront of contemporary novelists.