Advance reader reviews of Life Class by Pat Barker.

Life Class

A Novel

By Pat Barker

Life Class
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Jan 2008,
    320 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

Page 2 of 3
There are currently 17 member reviews
for Life Class
Order Reviews by:
  • Cathy (Manhattan MT)

    I've wanted to read the acclaimed Pat Barker for years, so I was very much looking forward to reading Life Class. What a disappointment!
    It starts out slowly, focusing way too much on one character who soon disappears, so what was the point? Reading this was such a chore, I wanted to give up, but I persevered.

    Part Two took a dramatic change for the better - the characters became much more interesting, as did the action, so I was changing my mind about the book. Until the end, that is. I can't remember the last time I was so dissatisfied with a book ending, and I was enraged by the shallowness of one of the main characters. The book is well written and historically interesting, but I can't think of one person I'd recommend it to.
  • Kathy (Corona CA)

    Life Imitates Art or Art Imitates Life
    Life is a series of situations where you learn and grow. Life Class is a fitting title for this book as it reflects the art class where several students meet and form early friendships and relationships. It is also a novel that deals with the classes of people found in London just prior to the start of WWI. It is definitely a book about "life" from learning how to draw the body to having a successful relationship with others and what it takes to make a life successful. It deals with the horrors of war and looks at it from two different perspectives which reflect not only the main characters views but the world - do you not even read about war so that you do not have to acknowledge it is taking place or do you do something about it to help and make a difference?
  • Becky (Junction TX)

    Setting A+, Plot B-
    Pre-World War I London and rural England come vividly to life in Pat Barker's novel, Life Class. The descriptions and situations from city fairs to country bike rides appeal to the reader's every sense. Few books have transported me so completely to another time and place. If only I had felt as involved in the plot or cared about the characters, it would have been a perfect read. Still, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
  • Donna (Woodstock MD)

    Strange Start
    This is the first Pat Barker novel that I've read so I am unfamiliar with her style. That being said, I thought the beginning of the book was very strange and irrelevant to the main story (the war and it's effect on the characters).

    I felt as though the book I was expecting to read did not start until somewhere around chapter 12. I did enjoy the novel after that and felt that seeing the war through the eyes of a Red Cross volunteer was poignant and unique.

    I agree with some of the other reviews, in that there is very interesting language at times and a lot of character development, but that didn't bother me. If it weren't for the Strange Start I would have given the book a 4.
  • Beth (Savannah GA)

    Art, War, Life - In Slow Motion
    I was looking forward to reading this book by an author whose work was unfamiliar to me. And although Pat Barker is obviously an accomplished writer, with occasionally brilliant phrasing and moments of vivid insight and clarity, the book seemed to go in slow motion for me, and I had a tough time getting through it. I found the characters callow and unsympathetic, became impatient with their immaturity, and really didn't much care what became of them. So for me, Life Class was disappointing. I wouldn't recommend it to readers who like their fiction lively.
  • Alice (Sacramento CA)

    Life Class
    I enjoyed every inch, every word of this book. The characters were young, eager to experience life but they were unpredictable. Just when I was sure that they had established a relationship, the relationship would take an unexpected twist to the extent that their unpredictability became predictable.

    The book contains interesting words that were probably used during World War, "sixpennies", I had never heard of that.

    I would recommend this book only to readers who can be entertained by the author's character development of young artists as well as descriptions of their various environments. If you are looking for a sensational plot...this isn't the book.
  • Mary (Hilton Head Island SC)

    Art As Life
    At first glance, Life Class appears to be a light hearted look at life in London during the days leading up to World War I. It is only after beginning Part Two that the reader becomes aware of Pat Barker's skill at painting word pictures which draw one into the times and attitudes surrounding war and its human consequences. A moving, thought-provoking book of a time in history which present day society has forgotten along with the lessons the horror of World War I taught the world. Lessons swallowed up by apathy and denial.
  • Page
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Hundred-Year House
    The Hundred-Year House
    by Rebecca Makkai
    Rebecca Makkai's sophomore novel The Hundred-Year House could just have easily been titled ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"

    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The Arsonist
by Sue Miller

Published Jun. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  132Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.