Queer Book Club: Regeneration Trilogy by Pat Barker

Regeneration cover

An actual book review from me, for a change. I’m rather late to the party with these ones, as they were published in the 90s, and the first one has since been made into a film, but I enjoyed them so much I thought I’d dust off my reviewing hat and recommend them here. I’ll cover the whole trilogy in one review, as I read them back to back in a frenzy of enthusiasm, and would now probably fail to separate them very well. The trilogy is adult historical fiction, comprised of: Regeneration, The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road.

The trilogy is set during WW1 and begins in the Craiglockheart Hospital, where Dr W.H.R. Rivers is treating soldiers experiencing battlefield trauma. The characters are a mixture of historical figures, including Rivers, and the poets Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves, as well as fictional characters, such as Billy Prior, who becomes the focus of the second and third novels in the trilogy. The trilogy doesn’t shirk from featuring the sexuality of the characters, particularly as the trilogy progresses.

What I liked most about this trilogy is the way Barker tackles the subject matter with compassion, but not sentimentality. The characters are complex, often difficult, and morally conflicted. There are no easy answers served up for any of them, and their understanding, both of themselves and the world around them is always a hard-won thing. Billy is a brilliantly drawn character—acutely aware of the class divide he awkwardly straddles, as an officer from a working class background, at peace with his bisexuality, but troubled by his sadistic desires, wryly self-aware of his own limitations in some ways, whilst self-deluding in other ways. Whilst the portrayals of the historical figures were interesting and well done, it was Billy that really made the trilogy for me.

This is human nature, in all its messy complexity. These books have gone straight onto my list of favourites. I can’t recommend them enough.

More queer fiction reviews coming up in the near future, as I have some on my reading pile.

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Flash Fiction: Changeling on Medium

green man natureI’ve just had my flash fiction, Changeling, published on Medium, in the publication The Mad River. They specialise in tales of fairies and madness, so check them out if that’s your sort of thing.

Changeling is a story from the point of view of the changeling boy from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a what happens next about love and desire. LGBTQ content. I guess you could call it Shakespeare fan fic.

Happy New Year

Wishing all my readers a Happy New Year and good things to come in 2018.

I have lots of final edits to complete in the first half of the year, from my 1920s Lovecraftian horror novel to a fantasy-romance novella with a trans main character. No more avoiding editing by starting new projects! My reading from last year is a weird mix of horror and romance, reflecting my writing projects, with some historical fiction and a few other genres thrown in the mix for variety. Here’s my cute year in view page on Goodreads. At least no one can ever accuse me of getting stuck in a genre rut with my reading choices.

My other plans for this year are to complete my vampire trilogy with a final novella and start a new novel exploring trauma and self-discovery. I want to really push myself with that project and try new narrative techniques and writing styles. I’m going to keep going with the short fiction on Medium, as well, as I love sharing work there with other writers and it’s a good way to try new things and keep my work fresh. If you haven’t given Medium a look, check it out. They pay writers, which makes them okay in my book.

Good luck with all your plans and goals for the New Year.