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Life Class by Pat Barker
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Life Class (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Pat Barker

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8074611,302 (3.5)109
Member:mollygrace
Title:Life Class
Authors:Pat Barker
Info:Doubleday (2008), Hardcover, 311 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:novel

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Life Class by Pat Barker (2007)

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English (43)  Dutch (2)  Danish (1)  All languages (46)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
Although this didn't come up to the level of her "Regeneration" books, I thought this was pretty darn good. As always, her writing style is wonderful: creative, crisp, and captivating. The characters are well drawn and interesting, and the way she weaves the fictional people with the historical ones (Henry Tonks, Augustus John, Ottoline Morrell) is seamless. Quite a page-turner, too, and of course her descriptions of the makeshift hospitals in WWI are fascinating and horrific at once. I'm planning to go on to the second book in the series. ( )
  meredk | Apr 22, 2016 |
Would be a 3.5. Listed audible. Barker returns to WWI setting of regeneration triology. Visual artists rather than the poets. ( )
  idiotgirl | Dec 25, 2015 |
Pat Barker is one of my top five novelists. She writes sparingly with not a word wasted, but creates a world so real with detail and characterization. ‘Life Class’ is the first of her #LifeClass trilogy of novels which tell the story of brother and sister Elinor and Toby, and Elinor’s fellow art students Paul and Kit, through the Great War. I first read this book when it was published in 2007 and devoured it. I have re-read it now to refresh my memory of the story and characters, before I read the newly published third volume of the trilogy, ‘Noonday’.
The story starts in 1914 in a life-drawing class at the Slade School of Art in London. The class is taken by Professor Henry Tonks, a real-life character, artist and surgeon. Barker weaves her fictional story around the true story of Tonks, the Slade, and the outbreak of the Great War. For student Paul Tarrant, the presence of Tonks is intimidating, as he struggles to find his identity as an artist. This is a novel about young people and their journey from youth to maturity via art and love, brutally influenced by the horrors of war. Interwoven with Paul’s story – he volunteers as an ambulance driver and goes to Ypres, working in a hospital – is that of Elinor Brooke, fellow art student. Elinor’s journey to adulthood is different, given that she is a woman at a time when middle-class women are not expected to have a career. She remains in London, continues to paint and mixes with the society group of Lady Ottoline Morrell, another true character, mixing with pacifists, conscientious objectors and the Bloomsbury Group.
Essentially, this is a triangular love story set into the structure of war. As the students struggle to define themselves as artists, their safe world collapses around them and the abnormal becomes normal. As Paul undertakes gruesome nursing tasks, he questions the purpose of war art and what it can achieve. As his life becomes surreal, so he is cast adrift from his former life without context to judge either his ability as an artist, or his humanity in the face of war. Are some things simply too horrific to paint?
Read more of my book reviews at http://www.sandradanby.com/book-reviews-a-z/ ( )
  Sandradan1 | Dec 5, 2015 |
I read Pat Barker's Regeneration Trilogy over 10 years ago and loved it, and this was the first time since that I came back to one of her books. I was not disappointed. I got through this well-written book in only a few sittings and it was one of those books that you can't wait to get back to. A slight disappointment was the superficial way Barker dealt with the complexities of the actual fighting in the First World War, making it seem easy for the heroine to make her way to a the forward area around Ypres. However, the book held my interest throughout, and I liked the characters -- they each possessed the foibles one expects in British fiction. This is well worth a read. ( )
  oparaxenos | Nov 27, 2015 |
An excellent novel that unfolds slowly. The main characters meet as art students at The Slade art school in London. Paul gets in to a relationship with Theresa and later Elinor and Kit is the moderately succesful young artist. The summer of 1914 is full of sunshine but everyone knows what is on the horizon. With the First World War we are thrown in to the horror of war as Paul is working as an orderly and later an ambulance driver near the front. Pat Barker develops her characters well and the story, which is told as narrative and occasionally as letters. ( )
  Tifi | Nov 25, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
This is a lusty tale, and Barker is careful not to let historical research derail momentum. The narrative buoyancy is also due to Barker’s sense of sight, fitting for a story about the painter’s gaze: light is “lemony”; eyes are “the colour of infected phlegm”; sunbathing men are “starfish shapes.”
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Barker, Patprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bekker, Jos denTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Book description
It is the spring of 1914 and a group of students at the Slade School of Art have gathered for a life-drawing class. Paul Tarrant is intrigued by fellow student Elinor Brooke. But when it becomes clear that painter Kit Neville is also attracted to her, Paul withdraws into a reckless affair with an artist's model. Then, as war commences, Paul and Elinor each reach a crisis in their relationships, and they turn to each other. Working for the Belgian Red Cross, Paul tends to the mutilated, dying soldiers from the front line. But when he returns, Paul faces the overwhelming challenge of how to express all that he has experienced, and the fact that life and love will never be the same again.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385524358, Hardcover)

From the Booker Prize–winning author of The Regeneration Trilogy, an acknowledged masterpiece of modern fiction, Life Class is an exceptional new novel of artists and lovers caught in the maelstrom of the Great War.

It is the spring of 1914 and a group of young students have gathered in an art studio for a life-drawing class. Paul Tarrant and Elinor Brooke are two parts of an intriguing love triangle and, in the first days of war, they turn to each other. As spring turns to summer, Paul volunteers for the Belgian Red Cross and tends to wounded, dying soldiers from the front line. By the time he returns, Paul must confront the fact that life and love will never be the same for him again.

In Life Class, Pat Barker returns to her most renowned subject: the human devastation and psychic damage wrought by World War One on all levels of British society. 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:09 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

"It is the spring of 1914 and a group of young students have gathered in an art studio for a life-drawing class. Paul Tarrant and Elinor Brooke are two parts of an intriguing love triangle, and in the first days of war, they turn to each other. As spring turns to summer, Paul volunteers for the Belgian Red Cross and tends to wounded and dying soldiers from the front line. By the time he returns, Paul must confront the fact that life and love will never be the same for him again." "In Life Class, Pat Barker returns to her most renowned subject: the human devastation and psychic damage wrought by the First World War on all levels of British society."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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