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)
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)
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.