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Extended Audio Sample Life Class Audiobook, by Pat Barker Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.1 out of 53.1 out of 53.1 out of 53.1 out of 53.1 out of 5 3.10 (31 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Pat Barker Narrator: Russell Boulter Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Life Class Trilogy Release Date: January 2008 ISBN: 9781482977417
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In the spring of 1914, a group of young students gather in an art studio for a life-drawing class. Paul Tarrant and Elinor Brooke are two components of a love triangle, and at the outset of the war, they turn to each other. After volunteering for the Red Cross, Paul must confront the fact that life, love, and art will never be the same for him. Pat Barker is unrivaled in her ability to convey simple, moving human truths. Her skill in relaying the harrowing experience of modern warfare is matched by the depth of insight she brings to the experience of love and the morality of art in a time of war. Life Class is one of her genuine masterpieces. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Beautiful and vocative...A coming-of-age story that transcends the individual and gestures to the fate of a generation.”

    People

  • “Barker’s grim, gray depiction of the hospital at the front, and of ghastliness of combat, approaches her finest writing, elegant and sweeping…She is the best English novelist working today.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Written with wrenching, telling detail…Life Class feels urgent and timely.”

    The Miami Herald

  • “Mature, unsentimental and searching. One of this excellent writer’s finest books.”

    Kirkus (starred review)

  • “The author’s unflinching eye for detail and her supple prose create an undeniably powerful narrative.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Readers…will appreciate the care she takes in her rich, deliberate character building.”

    Booklist

  • One of the 2008 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Fiction

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 2/11/2014

    " Extremely well written, although the characters and settings seemed to be richer when the author was on her favoured First World War territory. Made for a good book group discussion. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Donald | 2/5/2014

    " A very well-written and evocative book that does a better job of painting a word picture of the time and places of pre- and World-War I England/France than it does in moving along a plot. The characters are well-drawn, if not always likeable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve | 2/3/2014

    " Barker's take on the impact of WWI on the British social structure and her exploration of the subject of "shell shock" is outstanding. I look forward to reading her other books in this trilogy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 2/2/2014

    " eh. 2 art students during the war. the dialogue about art is interesting. i kept expecting someone to be killed by a bomb, but in the end, it's just life that goes on. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Rachel | 1/31/2014

    " Such a disappointing book. Obviously, the author did a lot of good research on the period, but this was a *novel* and lacked any of what makes fiction enjoyable. I just keep shaking my head and wondering why it won the Booker Prize. If you'd like to read a really good novel about the WWI period in England, read Atonement. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jess | 1/29/2014

    " I remember really liking Barker's Regeneration trilogy when I was in college, and was hoping I would really like this book as well. Unfortunately, it fell a little flat for me. There is some good historical tidbits, but generally the characters seem a bit wishy-washy, and for most of the book I wasnt really sure where we were going or why. It was, however, a quick and easy read, so I trundled along until the end. It made me wonder if Regeneration was as good as I remember, or if it was just my first book on WWI that caught my imagination at 18 or 19. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 BookRambler | 1/27/2014

    " Pat Barker writes well. The story is set in 1914 and follows protagonist Paul Tarrant through the impact of war and beyond. Paul is an art student and the first from his working class family to attend advanced education. He struggles with the dichotomy of earning and learning - 'It's not for people like us'. Barker writes well and creates believable characters and situations and gives a considered reflection on life, art, aesthetics. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stephanie | 1/22/2014

    " Pat Barker writes so beautifully that I would probably be gripped by her shopping list, and this book is no exception. I think if I'd read this before reading the Regeneration trilogy, which is so brilliant that anything else is pale in comparison, I'd have liked it a bit more. But having read the Regeneration trilogy, this was a bit... flat, I guess. I found the differences in outlook on the war between the protagonists too black-and-white and I couldn't get properly interested in the female lead. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hans Gordts | 1/17/2014

    " Strong writing. But half of the story is set in Ypres - in Flanders fields. So why do all the locals have French names & speak French? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paige | 1/17/2014

    " This book kept my attention, moving around from character to character, subplot to subplot in a very effective manner. The end began to drag a bit, but all in all I was satisfied with it and would recommend it to others who enjoy well-researched novels based around WWI. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karie | 1/11/2014

    " Had a horrible ending... Didn't wrap anything up to me in my mind... Made me wonder what the point of the book was... Just got really depressing at the end and no light at the end of the tunnel. Expected something more. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melanie | 1/3/2014

    " I am not sure what the focus of this book was supposed to be. The setting seemed quite promising but there was something off about the characters - I didn't really care in the end what happened to them. Oddly unsatisfying. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marilyn Morton | 12/23/2013

    " Begins in 1917 (WWI). Great description. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bex | 12/6/2013

    " enjoyable but not her best work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Muriel | 11/27/2013

    " Niet van hetzelfde niveau als Barkers "Regeneration Trilogy" maar toch graag gelezen. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Harry | 11/24/2013

    " Not in the same class as "Ghost Road". A slow moving love affair set during the early stages of WWI with an unsatisfying but too real ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jane | 6/9/2013

    " without the history behind the real life character Tonks, I doubt this book wuould have made it - but still, interesting yet frustrating read "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amy | 4/3/2013

    " A rare combination of a compelling narrative, great character development, and poetic, atmospheric writing. I feel the atmosphere of WW I Europe clinging to me days after finishing this novel. A+++. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Danielle Falese | 12/16/2012

    " I liked the story but expected more to happen with it. It ended abruptly and felt unfinished. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Molly | 11/22/2012

    " Barker is a brilliant writer. Clear, fluid prose. Understated. Unsentimental. No false reconciliation or resolution of things that just can't be reconciled, resolved. Very real. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sabrina | 8/22/2012

    " UGH-only made it thru 1st cd "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nora | 1/9/2012

    " While I found the history WW 1 interesting and thought that this is a topic I would like to read more on, I found the female character (Elinor) completely self centered and limited emotionallly. She ruined the book for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cathy | 1/6/2012

    " Pat Barker's subject is World War I and the terrible damage it inflicted. She skillfully blends real people with fictional characters. Much of the book is in the form of letters between the two main characters, and their conscious masking of emotion - the horrors of trench warfare - is effective. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eric | 8/28/2011

    " good to see barker back in wwI territory. but the set up is too long and the pay off not as compelling as expected. she was clearly going for something more subtle, more interior, more personal here. perhaps a bit too much so. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carrie | 5/18/2011

    " On the brink of the Great War, a group of art students gather in a life-drawing class. As the war progresses, they turn to each other for comfort, companionship, and love. War affects each student's art in unique ways, and leaves them with a strong anti-war conviction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tam | 4/12/2011

    " Taught, evocative writing, but felt like I'd read it before "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Maxine | 1/29/2011

    " Well read/produced audio book but I ultimately wanted more from the story. I must say that the author captured the spirit and tone of the WWI lost genration perfectly. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathrine | 10/5/2010

    " Pat Barker is always interesting to read and I found this story about artists before and during the First World War extremely well written and good at evoking the period. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stuart | 8/6/2010

    " Atonement, set in the First World War.

    Poignant and moving story of how normal life was destroyed by the war, let down only by laughably cringeworthy, ahem, “romantic” scenes.
    "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kathryn | 7/15/2010

    " This prose in this book slips by so quickly I would finish several chapters almost without noticing. The characters move from the life of art school, mundane in retrospect, to the horrors of WWI. Barker's scene-setting and subtle attention to detail really make the book. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sabrina | 7/2/2010

    " UGH-only made it thru 1st cd "

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About the Author
Author Pat Barker

Pat Barker is an English novelist who has won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Booker Prize. In 2000 she was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

About the Narrator

Russell Boulter is an English actor who has been seen on stage in Madness of George Dubya, Macbeth, and Star Quality, while his many television appearances include Judge John Deed, EastEnders, Murder in Suburbia, Merseybeat, A&E, Where the Heart Is, Casualty, The Bill, and Heartbeat.