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In the spring of 1914, a group of students at the Slade School of Art have gathered for a life-drawing class. Paul Tarrant is easily distracted by an intriguing fellow student, Elinor Brooke, but watches from afar when a well-known painter catches her eye. After World War I begins, Paul tends to the dying soldiers from the front line as a Belgian Red Cross volunteer, but the longer he remains, the greater the distance between him and home becomes. By the time he returns, Paul must confront not only the overwhelming, perhaps impossible challenge of how to express all that he has seen and experienced, but also the fact that life, and love, will never be the same for him again.
“Beautiful and evocative . . . a coming-of-age story that transcends the individual and gestures to the fate of a generation.”
“Life Class possesses organic power and narrative sweep. . . . Barker conjures up the hellish terrors of the war and its fallout with meticulous precision.”
—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Here, as in her best fiction, Barker unveils psychologically rich characters. . . and resists the trappings of a neat love story, reminding us once again that in art and life we remain infinitely mysterious.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“A book so alive from page to page that it's difficult to put down.”