“Toby’s Room” by: Pat Barker
TOBY’S ROOM isn’t my normal read. Yes, I like a good historic fiction from time to time, but in my experience a good story is hard to find.
I picked up TOBY’S ROOM for an online course I was taking on World War I heroism and art. There was a list, and this was the first one my library had a digital copy of–so it won out over all the rest. This may not sound like the most compelling reason to read a novel, but it turned out to be luck of fate.
I very much like the sadness that encompassed Toby’s Room.
Toby’s Room is the story of the civilians during WWI. More specifically, artists. Before this war–the war to ‘end’ all wars–the world was a much different place. Imperialism was just coming to an end, and how we–the public–viewed war was filled with chivalry and grand gestures. World War I put men in trenches and was anything but whimsical and heroic.
The story was twisted, much as life often is. There are a lot of gray areas in the real world. Moments that complicate life, making it anything but cut and dry. That is what I enjoyed the most about this tormented tale.
There are so many moments you should look away. Too many broken people who deserve your charity rather than your gawking–but gawking I did. From the first chapter to the last.
No, this is not an every persons book. If you don’t like history, or war, or gray patches–you may want to pass. But I feel the complexity of the character and Ms Barker’s ability to force you to feel compassion, even for those who don’t deserve it, will leave you turning pages.
Happy reading! xxoo-A