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Get Lit: Life Class, by Pat Barker

Life Class

is the latest Pat Barker novel, one that will again leave you feeling like an unschooled heathen because you’re ever so slightly underwhelmed.

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Barker returns to the time of her famous, highly praised Great War trilogy. And the writing is fine as Barker traces the story of art students caught up in WWI.

Things happen, many of them Symbolic with a capital S. But there is ever hanging about a disappointing feeling that matters are never quite gelling to be as enthralling or affecting as you hope. And, since Barker’s books all come slathered with lavish critical blurbs and festooned with important awards, you can’t help feeling the trouble is not with her, it’s with you and your hoi polloi inability to recognize profound greatness when it’s right in front of your eyes.

If you can get over that nagging feeling, then Life Class will be as satisfying to you as the Regeneration trilogy. Which might, of course, mean you’ll be left wondering a bit at why you have that slightly underwhelmed feeling. – Richard Connelly

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