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Life Class by Pat Barker
Life Class begins in the summer of 1914 and revolves around a group of painters at London's Slade School of Art. Paul Tarrant is a struggling young artist, suffering from not having anything to say with his art. Paul pines for Elinor, the school's most promising student, but she's also being pursued by Kit, who also seems more talented than Paul. The outbreak of The Great War upends all their lives. Elinor's art is shunted aside as being irrelevant during war time. Paul becomes an orderly and ambulance driver in Belgium and Kit becomes an acclaimed war artist. Their pre-war relationship and artistic intrigues pale in comparison to the traumas brought on by the war. Pat Barker's novel has received positive reviews with the Washington Post saying, "Barker has constructed this novel with a daringly languid plot. That the story remains so engaging is a testament to her elegant style and psychological acuity."