Results of the Man Booker Prize in the year 1995.
Central to this novel are two men divided by class and experience, but sharing a mutual respect and empathy. One is Lieutenant Billy Prior, cured of shell shock by famed psychologist Dr. William Rivers at Craiglockhart War Hospital, and determined to return to the front in France even as the war enters its final ferocious phase in the late summer of 1918. The other is Dr. Rivers himself, consumed by the medical challenge and moral dilemma of restoring men to health so that they can be sent back to the battlefields and almost certain death. Billy Prior is a working-class man on the rise, a “temporary gentleman,” who inhabits a sexual, social, and moral no-man’s-land. His sexual encounters with both women and men are tinged with a cynical fatalism that the war has engendered. Still, he is eager to join a fellow Craiglockhart “graduate,” the poet Wilfred Owen, in France in time to participate in the great English offensive, the “one last push” intended to redeem all the shining heroism and senseless slaughter that has gone before.
Set in London against the background of Nelson Mandela’s release, this novel follows a day in the life of Anthony Northleach. He ruminates on his marriage, his work, rugby and politics, until his waking dream turns into a nightmare.
The Moor evokes his family’s often grotesque but compulsively moving fortunes and the lost world of possibilities embodied by India in this century. His is a tale of premature deaths and family rifts, of thwarted loves and mad passions, of secrecy and greed, of power and money, and of the even more morally dubious seductions and mysteries of art.
Nicholas Barber is a twenty-three-year-old priest who, fearing the wrath of the bishop for breaking his vows of chastity, takes up with a troupe of traveling players. Coming to a small town in the middle of winter, the troupe puts on their usual morality play but gets caught up in a drama of a different kind: a murder has taken place, and a mute-and-deaf girl stands condemned, awaiting execution. Seeing an opportunity to attract a larger audience than ever, the players go through the town collecting information about the murder, which they weave into their next performance. As they perform, the story takes on a life of its own. Soon they learn that their drama is far closer to the dangerous truth than they originally imagined - and they are summoned to perform for the local potentate, the powerful Lord de Guise, who has his own reasons to be interested in their version of events. Bringing fourteenth-century England to vibrant life, Barry Unsworth deftly shows us a time that is far off yet strangely familiar, where underneath medieval trappings lie the same corruption and moral dilemmas we face today.
After traveling through Europe for two years, Scully and his wife Jennifer wind up in Ireland, and on a mystical whim of Jennifer’s, buy an old farmhouse which stands in the shadow of a castle. While Scully spends weeks alone renovating the old house, Jennifer returns to Australia to liquidate their assets. When Scully arrives at Shannon Airport to pick up Jennifer and their seven-year-old daughter, Billie, it is Billie who emerges—alone. There is no note, no explanation, not so much as a word from Jennifer, and the shock has left Billie speechless. In that instant, Scully’s life falls to pieces.
The Riders is a superbly written and a darkly haunting story of a lovesick man in a vain search for a vanished woman. It is a powerfully accurate account of marriage today, of the demons that trouble relationships, of resurrection found in the will to keep going, in the refusal to hold on, to stand still. The Riders is also a moving story about the relationship between a loving man and his tough, bright daughter.