Pat Barker is unrivaled in her ability to convey simple, moving human truths. Her skill in relaying the harrowing experience of modern warfare is matched by the depth of insight she brings to the experience of love and the morality of art in a time of war. Life Class is one of her genuine masterpieces.
©2008 Pat Barker; (P)2008 BBC Audiobooks America
"Calls to mind such early moderns as Hemingway and Fitzgerald....some of the most powerful anti-war literature in modern English fiction." (The Boston Globe)
"Pat Barker understands the dynamics of psychic trauma and shutdown as well as any living writer." (Esquire)
Like Barker's Regeneration Trilogy, Life Class is set during World War I. The first half involves the blithe lives of a group of young art students, including Paul and Elinor, whose friendship develops into something more. As the war wages on, Paul attempts to sign up; when he is rejected, he volunteers as an ambulance driver. The novel encomppases some of the horrors of war familliar to Barker readers/listeners, but the intent here seems to be to show how the experience of war changes people and their relationships. A fine listen.
The characters were one-dimensional and unlikable. I did not enjoy my time in their company.
The writing was actually good - it was the characters I couldn't stand. I'm sure some people love this book; I am just not one of them.
This really was a letdown after The Regeneration Trilogy. The story is not particularly compelling and, try as I could, I simply found it hard to care much about the characters.
A librarian who loves to read, whether in print or in the air
Barker writes interesting character studies of the British during World War I. This one is good, but her Regeneration Trilogy is even better.
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