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Extended Audio Sample Toby’s Room Audiobook, by Pat Barker Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.63 out of 53.63 out of 53.63 out of 53.63 out of 53.63 out of 5 3.63 (16 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Pat Barker Narrator: Nicola Barber Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Series: The Life Class Trilogy Release Date: May 2016 ISBN: 9781504768276
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It is 1917 and Elinor Brooke, a young painter, is studying art in London while her beloved brother Toby serves on the front as a medical officer. When Toby goes missing and is presumed dead, the devastated Elinor refuses to accept it. A letter she finds hidden among his belongings reveals that Toby knew he wasn’t coming back and implies that his friend, medic Kit Neville, knows why. But Kit has been horribly disfigured and is reeling from shell shock.

While Elinor tries to piece together the mystery of what happened to her brother, she uses her drawing skills to aid in the surgical reconstruction of those who have suffered unspeakable losses—their faces, their memories, their very minds.

Masterfully written and daringly ambitious, Toby’s Room explores at all levels of it means to be human.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The precision of Ms. Barker’s writing shows her again to be one of the finest chroniclers of both the physical and psychological disfigurements exacted by the First World War.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Unforgettable…Toby’s Room takes large risks…And it succeeds brilliantly.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “The writing is lucid and often beautiful.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Images are scrupulously vivid, and the plot has real momentum.”

    Daily Telegraph (London)

  • “A tantalizing and moving return to wartime London.”

    Washington Post

  • “Barker is so deft handling history, from battlefield scenes to surgery in Queen’s Hospital, that she has few peers.”

    Cleveland Plain-Dealer

  • “A novel about how art attempts to depict the horrors of World War One.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Art and war are the real fusion in this novel, and Barker offers fascinating meditations on the interrelation between the two…A powerful book.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “No one evokes England in all its stiff-upper-lip gritty wartime privation like Barker. She is…determined to render an honest portrayal of war. She will not allow us to sweep it out of sight.”

    Miami (FL) Herald

  • “Barker has shown again that she is not only a fine chronicler of war but of human nature.”

    Independent (London)

  • “Barker writes about love, loss, and survival, themes that are supported well by Nicola Barber’s able narration. Barber imbues Elinor with a spirit of humanity that makes her easier to empathize with, particularly in her grief…The vocal differentiation is excellent, particularly the—at times, uncomfortable—voicing of the young man who lost his nose in the war.”


  • One of the 2012 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books in Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gill | 2/19/2014

    " Fantastic book, the characters are so real, fits beautifully with Life Class, hope this is going to be a trilogy ! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ron | 2/13/2014

    " Same basic plot, same basic outcome, same formulaic development as THE ABSOLUTIST. Very predictable outcome. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carolyn | 2/11/2014

    " Excellent author! Looked at the Tonks site on line and it was amazing and yet terrible "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Becky Vowles | 2/9/2014

    " Combining the themes of 'My Dear I Wanted To Tell You' and 'The Absolutist', this is a return to the impact of the First World War for Pat Barker. The novel focuses on the death of a Medical Officer, and show the impact this has on his family as a whole, but especially on his sister, with whom he had had an intimate relationship prior to an incident in 1912. A secondary, but interwoven, storyline is that of the offical War Artists commissioned to produce approved and 'official' images of the front. Often these men were drawn from those too badly wounded to return to active duty, and their experiences of the war coloured their work. The story draws in attitudes towards sexuality as well as towards those disfigured by their injuries, bringing the work of Gillies and Henry Tonks in recording and attempting to repair the facial injuries caused by the war. This is a stark novel, and tackles some difficult issues, readers who enjoyed Barker's Regeneration series will find the style unaltered here. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Louise | 1/31/2014

    " If you didn't read the Regeneration Trilogy - do! You missed a treat you'll regret later. I did read it, and wish there was another, so I was hungry for this new WWI story from Pat Barker. It didn't disappoint. A great senses of place and time provide an epic backdrop to a human story that could have taken place in any place or time, but are somehow made all the more interesting because of being so grounded in such a profound time of change. I love the fact that the story of the war is told with no sentimentality or cliche. .... you never know quite how to feel and that's what makes her such an amazing writer. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alice Meloy | 1/28/2014

    " A "companion" to her previous novel, Life Class, (and, for my money, a better book) this novel returns to the era of WWI, a subject which has provided Barker fodder for many of her novels. Medicine, art, medical technology, psychology, and the effects of war conflate in this story of Elinor Brooke, a young upper class art student. Her relationship with her older brother Toby has always been very close, and when Toby, a medical officer, does not return from the battlefield, Elinor becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to him. Booker Award winner Barker's story telling evokes the malaise associated with those of upper class British society who were the survivors among the Lost Generation, and she does an excellent job of describing the life led by Elinor and her friends. I must admit, however, that the revelation of what happened to Toby did not have on me the impact I had anticipated, but maybe I've become jaded with all the WWI reading I've been doing lately. Although this does not rank at the top of recent books I've read, Toby's Room is worth reading and is a good reminder of Barker's brilliant earlier novels, especially the Regeneration Trilogy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bette | 1/21/2014

    " I particularly enjoyed the first half of this book, which is told from Elinor's point of view. At that point, I was thinking, "this is a 5 star book." The second half, told from Neville's & Paul's point of view, is good, but harder to take due to the focus on Neville's facial wounds and his experiences "in hospital" with his pedicle. (Of course, Elinor's experiences in her anatomy class, dissecting a cadaver, were not terribly pleasant either....) Anyway, Barker is so well versed in all aspects of WWI experiences, from the trenches, to the home front, to the hospitals that her books are extremely credible. She crafts her plots well, and I found the characters in this book particularly compelling. I also liked the ending. So I'd give this 4 1/2 stars. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Julia | 1/18/2014

    " maybe i just wasn't in the right mindset to enjoy this? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Isabel | 11/18/2013

    " For any readers who are fascinated, as I am, with the First World War and the way it changed society forever, this is a must-read. The book follows a small group of art students, beginning before the war. I had a hard time liking the main character, Elinor, but that didn't detract from the book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Helen | 5/18/2013

    " Straightforward plot with good characters I enjoyed this story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Annie | 2/11/2013

    " Themes of war and sexual identity. The book started out really strong and continued strong but I felt the ending was weak and kind of a let-down because of that. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Clara | 12/16/2012

    " Toby's Room carries us back into the territory of Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy. The same mesmerizing writing, the sadness of lives twisted by warfare. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul | 11/30/2012

    " This is a follow up to Life Class involving two of the central characters from that book but you do not need to have read Life Class to read this. It's a powerful book covering love and loss in World War One and if you have read any of the ghost road trilogy or life class you will enjoy this too. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynn Kearney | 11/25/2012

    " 3.5 I'd say. I don't think this was in a class with her Regeneration Trilogy, but she's a very good writer and the period of WW 1 interests and horrifies me in equal measure, "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Federico Leonyleon | 10/26/2012

    " great story-telling, interesting choice for depicting the horrors of war. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Susan | 10/3/2012

    " I rushed to get this marvelous sequel to Life Class read before the end of the year so that I could include it in my top 10 of 2012. Pat Barker has cornered the literary market on World War I and its devastating effects on a generation. Graphic, but wholly believable. A must read. "

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About the Author
Author Pat Barker

Pat Barker is an English novelist who has won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Booker Prize. In 2000 she was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

About the Narrator

Nicola Barber, a British voice actress with over a decade of experience, has won four Earphone Awards for narration from AudioFile Magazine and has recorded national radio spots for Verizon Wireless, Virgin Airlines, and Hilton Hotels, as well as national TV commercials. She specializes in commercials, corporate videos, audiobooks, phone systems, and training videos. She has narrated over a dozen books for authors such as Barbara Taylor Bradford and Maureen Johnson.