Life Class (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Though trained as a historian, Pat Barker began writing novels in 1982, but she first gained wide readership and critical acclaim with the 1991 release of her fifth novel, Regeneration. That book and the two that followed, collectively referred to as the Regeneration Trilogy, were set against the backdrop of World War I and chronicled the horrors of the war as well as the seismic shifts that it brought to English society. Most readers associate Barker with this war, and she returns to it with Life Class, after more than a decade during which she published novels on more contemporary subjects.
Life Class is divided into two sections, the first of which opens with a scene in a life drawing class at the famous Slade School of Art in London. Readers are introduced to Paul Tarrant, a young student who apparently has some talent but is not progressing with his art at the rate that he or his teacher, the stern and overbearing Henry Tonks, would like. Paul has a friendship with, as well as some romantic interest in, his fellow student Elinor Brooke, who is also being wooed by recent Slade graduate and rising artistic star Kit Neville. The three, along with others from London’s art scene, frequent the Café Royal, where Paul meets and becomes involved with Teresa Halliday, an artists’ model whose physical charms and sexual frankness captivate him, despite his haunting sense that she is hiding something and despite the fact that her...
(The entire section is 1678 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
Booklist 104, no. 3 (October 1, 2007): 5-6.
Commonweal 135, no. 9 (May 9, 2008): 28-29.
Kirkus Reviews 75, no. 20 (October 15, 2007): 1064.
Library Journal 132, no. 19 (November 15, 2007): 48.
New Statesman 136 (July 16, 2007): 64.
The New York Times, February 29, 2008, p. 31.
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Publishers Weekly 254, no. 42 (October 22, 2007): 34.
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The Times (London), July 7, 2007, p. 5.
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The Wall Street Journal 251, no. 20 (January 25, 2008): W2.
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