Fiction: Life Class, by Pat Barker

I really, really canNOT understand the reviews for this book: all of which seem to compare it unfavorably to her earlier Regeneration trilogy and some of which I just find ludicrous (“Tellingly, many critics mentioned as their favorite character one with little more than a walk-on—the real-life artist, teacher, and surgeon Henry Tonks, whom they hope to see more of in a sequel“. What? NO.).
I didn’t think the first half of the book was “slow” as so many have said / I thought the first half was about a bunch of very unhappy people, some of whom are actually happier when the war comes (second half) because it gives their life some direction they hadn’t seemed to be able to find before it. Life does move slower when you’re unhappy, don’t you know.
I loved the descriptions of the art in this book; I could *almost* see the paintings in my mind and I really wish most of them existed. (Similar to how I felt about the paintings in Siri Hustvedt’s “What I Loved”.)
I found it moving and insightful and while it does continue to crack me up that so many contemporary British writers are often to be found writing about WWI and II (because there just haven’t been any conflicts in the world since then, right?) in a way you don’t find quite as often on this side of the pond, I think Pat Barker is (and continues to be) one of the best.

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