2006 Books Read – #13

Double Vision by Pat Barker

Double Vision

The trouble was, Kate thought, Alec had always thought of himself as a good man. That made him sound smug and horrible, which he wasn’t, but he did tend to assume that in the war of good and evil he’d always be on the right side, whereas Kate couldn’t help thinking real adult life starts when you admit the other possibility. ‘We’re all a bit like that, aren’t we?’

Ah, that’s why I love Pat Barker. Even if this book had nothing else to recommend it, it would be worth reading just for that bit.

Barker’s writing is eloquent and unfussy. She’s really readable. Lovely writing, no distractions.

There are two main characters in this book: a burned-out war journalist who is grappling with the death of his photographer friend, and the photographer’s wife, a sculptor, who is not only dealing with the death of her husband, but also recovering from a bad car accident. Their lives intersect when the journalist returns home to work on a book about his experiences. A romantic relationship does develop, but not between these two characters.

It’s an absorbing story on the surface level. But it also—as is typical for a Barker novel—explores complex questions about war and violence.

This isn’t my favorite Barker book, but it’s the best book I’ve read this year.