by Pat Barker |
REVIEWED BY DANIELLE TRUSSONI
Booker Prize winner Barker's 11th book is a chilling examination of war and the indelible marks it leaves upon the young. Life Class follows a group of art students studying under the influential Henry Tonks at the Slade School of Fine Art in London on the eve of the First World War. While love, feminism and artistic rivalry absorb the majority of these characters' time, it soon becomes apparent that war will forever change their perception of life, art and themselves. The innocence with which they approach the impending hostilities is heartbreaking, and Barker's writing is beautiful and evocative, presenting a meticulously researched coming-of-age story that transcends the individual and gestures to the fate of a generation. A highly entertaining and engrossing work of historical fiction, the book has much to offer contemporary readers, reminding us that it is "the hardest thing in the world to go on being aware of somebody else's pain."