review: life class by pat barker

22 10 2008

When I discovered Pat Barker had a new WWI novel out, I knew it wouldn’t be too long until I purchased it.  I managed to wait until it was out in paperback, and after having finished, I’m glad I waited for the less expensive paperback.

There were sections that were quite good, particularly when describing the battle and the trauma of the war, but the novel felt half-done to me.  I felt as if I was left halfway through story, waiting to see how it would really end.  I was interested at the end to see that the characters in the novel are very much routed in fact.  She talks about Henry Tonks – who is there throughout the book as a presence and reminder for the other characters – but her description of the work he did making drawings of patients before, during and after revolutionary plastic surgeries seems like it would have been a much more interesting story to read about.  That story seemed to have some echoes of another book I’m interested in: The Crimson Portrait. As for Life Class, it just was underdone for me.

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