Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Fourteen - Life Class - Pat Barker

Set in England during World War I, Life Class captures the lives of young artists during war time. Paul and Elinor flirt after art class one day and decide to meet at Cafe Royal that night. That night Paul is introduced to a model named Teresa and falls madly in love with her. Meanwhile Elinor and Kit, a former art student, leave together. Paul begins to date Teresa and finds out she's married. Teresa's husband confronts Paul and ultimately Teresa decides to spend some time in the country. As she is leaving, Teresa points out that Paul really is in love with Elinor.

Germany declares war on Russia and Neville decides to join the Belgian Red Cross. Paul applies for the army and is rejected. He decides to join the Red Cross as well. Paul heads to the front and rents a room in the local town so he can paint. Elinor and Paul write letters back and forth. Paul invites her to visit him and they end up making love as the town is bombed. As the war continues, Paul and Elinor's lives are challenged as they both struggle to find their love for each other and their passion for art.

Barker, Pat. Life Class. Doubleday (2008). 320 pages. ISBN 0385524353.
This book had a good premise, but struggled to capture this reader's attention. Pat Barker's vivid descriptions of the war time conditions are overshadowed by the lack of connecting plot lines between the main characters.

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