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Barker’s Life Class characters Elinor Brooke and Paul Tarrant find their paths crossing again when Paul returns to London after an injury and becomes a ‘war painter,’ a government endeavor to capture images of WW I. But, Elinor seeks him out not for himself but for what he can help her find out about her brother Toby, also lost in the war when serving as a medical officer with a fellow Slade student Kit Neville who becomes one of his stretcher bearers. Kit seems to know something about Toby’s death. Now horribly disfigured himself, will he tell Elinor what she wants to know? Elinor’s family, particularly her close relationship with Toby, drives the plot of this book. Elinor ambivalence and keeping her distance from the war is challenged. Whether staying home or being in the war, lives will never be what they were. We see Elinor mature as she pursues answers from questions that arise from a note to her found in her brother’s returned jacket pocket. Barker has such talent. It’s a pleasure reading her fiction, enjoying some of the real Bloomsbury artists who appear and learning about some of the medical men who tried to give new faces to horribly disfigured soldiers. Highly recommended.
posted Oct 18, 2012 at 9:45PM
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