I read Toby’s Room in less than two days. It was a very quick, but strange story situated during WWI. I did not dislike it, but I did not particularly enjoy this book either.
Pat Barker poses and introduces endless questions and themes. She forces the reader to compare the views of homosexuality then and now. She focuses on how a woman artist looks at war versus her male counterpart. She illustrates the archaic belief that women were inferior to men and not able to manage the same challenges. She concentrates on loss, identity, responsibility and truth. Finally, Barker indicates that the enormity of war tortures all it’s victims including the periphery.My biggest complaint and confusion is why incest plays a role in this story? Elinor could have been obsessed with Toby and then tormented by his unexplained death without Barker introducing an incestuous relationship. The incest incident sheds a horrendous light on the fact that Toby was gay. The issue of a gay military officer exposed which leads to his death during the 1900’s is the topic for discussion. Why Toby and Elinor engaged in a sexual relationship takes focus away from and tarnishes the fact that Toby was homosexual. I would love to hear other opinions on this aspect of the plot. Was the incest needed? Did it actually further the storyline in a way I am missing?