Toby's Room is English novelist Pat Barker's follow up novel to Life Class (2007). It continues to follow the fortunes of a group of students and teachers of the Slade School of Fine Art during the First World War.
The novel falls into two distinct parts covering two time periods – 1912 and 1917
Elinor Brooke, student at Slade, is home for the weekend from her studies in London, along with her older siblings Rachel and Toby. She and Toby go walking out to the old Mill, something that they did, although forbidden, as children. While exploring the Mill, Toby and Elinor fall into a playful embrace, which becomes, at least on Toby's part, a passionate kiss, which he immediately regrets.
Although disgusted by his behavior, Elinor agrees to pretend that nothing has happened to the rest of the family. Nevertheless, she is distressed by what has happened, and goes to Toby's room that night to confront him. He wakes and pulls her into bed with him.
The next day Elinor's mother, while alone with her, tells her that Toby had a papyrus twin, a girl that died in the womb early, and whose corpse was slowly crushed by Toby's growing body.
Elinor returns to London, still disgusted with Toby and herself. She is distracted in her studies, which is noted by Tonks, her intimidating teacher at Slade. She begins an anatomy class at the teaching hospital to improve her skills. She is not repelled by this, but the situation is still awkward as Toby, a medical student, was going to tutor her in anatomy, but now a distance has grown between them.
This rift is solved by Toby's becoming very ill and ignoring his health while studying for his finals. Elinor nurses him, they both keep the incident from their family, and they mend their relationship somewhat.
In the midst of the First World War, Elinor has returned to the family home. She has the feeling that Toby, a medical officer at the front in France, will not return home. Several weeks later they find out he is "Missing, believed killed." In denial about the War itself, and without a body located, Elinor cannot believe that the story she has been told is what actually happened.
Finding out that another former Slade student, Kit Neville, served under her brother, she writes to him to find out what happened, but he doesn't reply, which makes her think that there is something more to the story of her brother's death. She seeks the help of her former Slade lover Paul Tarrant, wounded in battle, and best friend Catherine, to find out what really happened to Toby, no matter what the truth is.
They find Neville at The Queen's Hospital, Sidcup, a hospital that exclusively treats facial wounds, and it is also where Tonks is working, using his skills as an artist to depict the wounds, and recovery through surgery pioneered by Harold Gillies, of the injured soldiers hospitalised there.
Neville is reluctant to tell Toby's story, and in the meantime Elinor agrees to join Tonks in helping to draw the patients there. Kit struggles through his surgery and recovery, slowly revealing to the reader, and finally to Paul, that Toby's cavalier attitude towards putting his men in danger by taking massive risks took his toll on Neville, and when he caught Toby having sex with a stable boy he reported him. His superior officer gave Toby a choice between court martial and 'doing the right thing', i.e. killing himself in No Man's Land and being labelled a hero.
Paul reluctantly tells Elinor about how her brother died, and is surprised that it brings her some peace. The Brookes sell the family home, further fragmenting them after Toby's death, and Elinor looks to her future as an artist.
Toby's Room received a generally good reception, especially when it came to talking about the themes of what a female artist does in wartime, and how one deals with those who are disfigured and suffering as a result of war. Lee of The Guardian says: "Barker makes us see, with steadiness and without sensationalism, the men with no eyes, the men with no mouths, the men with no jaws, men whose tongues stick out through holes in their cheeks, men who are being patched up and operated on "and sent on their way with whatever the surgeons had managed to supply by way of a face".Lee also notes Barker's frequent return to T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland as a touchstone for the First World War. ("the wound and the wasteland are the same thing. They aren't metaphors for each other, it's closer than that." )
The Telegraph stated that the prose style "remains fresh, humanely business-like, crisp and unsentimental. Images are scrupulously vivid, and the plot has real momentum."In the Times Literary Supplement, Mark Bostridge pointed out that the novel as whole owes much to the work of Vera Brittain, and that the fate of Toby Brooke, who killed himself rather than face a court-martial for homosexuality, is clearly based on what has been uncovered by Bostridge about the death of Vera Brittain's brother Edward Brittain, though Barker's novel does not acknowledge the source of the story.
Regeneration is a historical and anti-war novel by Pat Barker, first published in 1991. The novel was a Booker Prize nominee and was described by the New York Times Book Review as one of the four best novels of the year in its year of publication. It is the first of three novels in the Regeneration Trilogy of novels on the First World War, the other two being The Eye in the Door and The Ghost Road, which won the Booker Prize in 1995. The novel was adapted into a film by the same name in 1997 by Scottish film director Gillies MacKinnon and starring Jonathan Pryce as Rivers, James Wilby as Sassoon and Jonny Lee Miller as Prior. The film was successful in the UK and Canada, receiving nominations for a number of awards.
Vera Mary Brittain was an English Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse, writer, feminist, socialist and pacifist. Her best-selling 1933 memoir Testament of Youth recounted her experiences during the First World War and the beginning of her journey towards pacifism.
Testament of Youth is a memoir of British nurse and activist Vera Brittain (1893–1970), published in 1933. Brittain's memoir covers the years 1900 to 1925, and continues with Testament of Experience, published in 1957, and encompassing the years 1925 to 1950. Between these two books comes Testament of Friendship, which is essentially a memoir of Brittain's close colleague and friend Winifred Holtby. A final segment of memoir, to be called Testament of Faith or Testament of Time, was planned by Brittain but remained unfinished at her death.
Elinor Glyn was a British novelist and scriptwriter who specialised in romantic fiction, which was considered scandalous for its time, although her works are relatively tame by modern standards. She popularized the concept of the it-girl, and had tremendous influence on early 20th-century popular culture and, possibly, on the careers of notable Hollywood stars such as Rudolph Valentino, Gloria Swanson and, especially, Clara Bow.
Patricia Mary W. Barker, is a British writer and novelist. She has won many awards for her fiction, which centres on themes of memory, trauma, survival and recovery. Her work is described as direct, blunt and plainspoken. In 2012, The Observer named the Regeneration Trilogy as one of "The 10 best historical novels".
The UCL Slade School of Fine Art is the art school of University College London (UCL) and is based in London, England. It has been ranked as the UK's top art and design educational institution. The school is organised as a department of UCL's Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
Birdsong is a 1993 war novel and family saga by the English author Sebastian Faulks. It is Faulks's fourth novel. The plot follows two main characters living at different times: the first is Stephen Wraysford, a British soldier on the front line in Amiens during the First World War, and the second is his granddaughter, Elizabeth Benson, whose 1970s plotline follows her attempts to recover an understanding of Stephen's experience of the war.
Roland Aubrey Leighton was a British poet and soldier, made posthumously famous by his fiancée Vera Brittain's memoir, Testament of Youth.
Winifred Holtby was an English novelist and journalist, now best known for her novel South Riding, which was posthumously published in 1936.
Rosemary Tonks was an English poet and author. After publishing two poetry collections, six novels, and pieces in numerous media outlets, she disappeared from the public eye following her conversion to Fundamentalist Christianity in the 1970s; little was known about her life past that point, until her death.
Blast from the Past is a 1998 novel by Ben Elton, published by Bantam Press and later adapted into a stage performance by the West Yorkshire Playhouse. The plot centres on Polly Slade, an ordinary woman with a highly unusual past, whose world is thrown into turmoil when the two men in her life show up at her front door in the middle of the night: Jack, a general in the United States Army with whom she had a short-lived affair as a teenager and Peter, an obsessive stalker who has been terrifying her for the past two years. Themes of the novel include obsession, rape, the morality of war, gender politics, and whether one can ever hope to return to the past and find that everything is just as one remembers it.
Mark Bostridge is a British writer and critic, known for his historical biographies.
Sheila Carter is a fictional character from The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, American soap operas on the CBS network. Created by William J. Bell, the role was introduced in 1990 — by Edward J. Scott — under the portrayal of Kimberlin Brown, who portrayed the role from 1990 to 1992 on The Young and the Restless, although she continued to make guest appearance until 1995. From 1992 to 1998, Brown played the role on The Bold and the Beautiful, returning for stints in 2002 and 2003, before returning to The Young and the Restless from 2005 to January 2006. That same year, Michelle Stafford took over the role after Sheila had plastic surgery to look like Phyllis Summers. Brown returned to the role of Sheila on The Bold and the Beautiful from June 9, 2017, to March 23, 2018, and then again from August 6, 2021.
The Queen and I is a 1992 novel and play written by Sue Townsend, a fictional best-selling political satire revolving round the topic of republicanism in the United Kingdom.
Henry Tonks, FRCS was a British surgeon and later draughtsman and painter of figure subjects, chiefly interiors, and a caricaturist. He became an influential art teacher.
Kaahin Kissii Roz is an Indian thriller television series that was broadcast on Star Plus from 23 April 2001 to 23 September 2004. It is digitally available on Disney+ Hotstar. The series starred Mouli Ganguly, Yash Tonk and Sudha Chandran in the lead roles.
Testament of Youth is a 2014 British drama film based on the First World War memoir of the same name written by Vera Brittain. The film stars Alicia Vikander as Vera Brittain, an independent young woman who abandoned her studies at Somerville College, Oxford, to become a war nurse. The film was directed by James Kent and written by Juliette Towhidi.
Victor Richardson was a British Army officer who served during the Great War, best remembered for being immortalised in his friend Vera Brittain's First World War best-selling 1933 memoir Testament of Youth.
Edward Harold Brittain, MC was a British Army officer who was killed in the First World War; he was immortalised by his sister Vera Brittain in Testament of Youth.
The Silence of the Girls is a 2018 novel by English novelist Pat Barker. It recounts the events of the Iliad chiefly from the point of view of Briseis.